Support from the 2008 award from HHMI provides funding for a new functional genomics curriculum focusing on the gustatory and olfactory senses of Manduca sexta, the tobacco hornworm. The curriculum is integrated over several laboratory courses.
Food Choice Experiment (Introductory Biology)
In the introductory laboratory, we introduce students to Manduca and illustrate the central role of taste and smell in its food preferences. Students observe induced preference behavior, handle caterpillars, set up preference tests, measure orientation to and consumption of host-plant leaves, and use image-analysis software to quantify the leaf area consumed. Each lab section develops a chemosensory explanation for the observed behavioral responses and designs an experiment to test their hypothesis.