School of
Integrative Biology
Hugh Robertson

417 Morrill Hall
Office: 217-333-0489

Mail: 320 Morrill Hall, 505 S. Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801

Hugh Robertson
Professor Emeritus - Entomology

The molecular basis for insect olfaction and taste; insect and arthropod genomics

Robertson works primarily on the chemoreceptors of insects implicated in mediating smell and taste. This repertoire of about 130 proteins in Drosophila melanogaster has changed considerably in other insect like the mosquito Anopheles gambiae, the silkmoth Bombyx mori, and the honey bee Apis mellifera. We are exploring their molecular evolution from as far back as the split with nematodes to close comparisons like the 10 Drosophila species for which genomes are becoming available.

Various other projects involving bioinformatic analysis of gene families, especially exploiting the newly available animal genome projects, are being undertaken, including the name nematode chemoreceptor families, the odorant binding protein family in insects, and the tetraspanin, arrestin, opsin, and other gene families in insect and other animals.

Genome sequences also open the possibility for other kinds of bioinformatic studies, for example of genes that have been lost in Drosophila but are retained in other insects. These in turn can only be studied in these other insects.

Past projects have included the mariner transposons of insects and other animals, the Wolbachia bacteria that infect various insects and other animals, insect phylogenetics, ancient DNA, and behavioral ecology of odonates.

Representative Publications

Robertson, H. M. 1993. The mariner transposable element is widely distributed in insects. Nature 362, 241-245.

Robertson, H. M., R. Martos, C. R. Sears, E. Z. Todres, K. K. O. Walden, and J. B. Nardi. 1999. Diversity of odourant binding proteins revealed by an expressed sequence tag project on male Manduca sexta moth antennae. Insect Molecular Biology 8, 501-518.

Robertson, H. M. 2000. The large srh family of chemoreceptor genes in Caenorhabditis nematodes reveals processes of genome evolution involving large duplications and deletions and intron gains and losses. Genome Research 10, 192-203.

Nardi, J. B., L. A. Miller, K. K. O. Walden, S. Rovelstad, K. Ramsdell, L. Wang, J. C. Frye, L. S. Deem, and H. M. Robertson. 2003. Expression patterns of odorant binding proteins in the antennae of Manduca sexta moths. Cell and Tissue Research 313, 321-333.

Robertson, H. M., C. G. Warr, and J. R. Carlson. 2003. Molecular evolution of the insect chemoreceptor superfamily in Drosophila melanogaster. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 100 Suppl 2, 14537-14542.