RIFFELLLab | Laboratory Tools
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Laboratory Tools

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Research Tools in the Riffell Laboratory

Our research incorporates a variety of different tools to explore the neural bases of ecological interactions. These methodologies encompass chemical analytical methods, electrophysiological techniques, and field and behavioral assays.

Electrophysiological Tools

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Antennal Lobe Recordings in Tethered Flight

Taking advantage of methods pioneered in the Dickinson, Maimon and Wilson laboratories, we are recording from the mosquito antennal lobe during tethered flight.

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Gas Chromatography and Single Sensilla Recording/Electroantennography (GC-SSR/EAG)

To identify behaviorally effective volatiles from a complex bouquet, we take advantage of the GC-EAG or GC-SSR method that allows permits the rapid identification of compounds that stimulate the olfactory sensilla (GC-SSR) or antenna (GC-EAG) of an insect. The gas chromatograph (GC) is used for separating and determining the identity and relative abundance of compounds present in complex mixtures of volatiles, thereby allowing identification of the specific features (ie volatiles) that evoke strong olfactory responses.

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Two-Photon Excitation Microscopy in Tethered Flight

Using genetically encoded calcium indicators (GCaMP6) we now have the ability to neural network responses in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes during tethered flight. Neuronal responses are recorded during different visual or olfactory stimulation.

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Multi-Channel Recording in Behaving (Learning) Insects

Using implanted multichannel electrodes in the insect brain coupled with camera-based computer vision methods (to record behavioral responses), we now the ability to observe and manipulate the insect CNS during learning and behavior.

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Simultaneous Multi-Channel Recording and a Locomotion Compensator

In collaboration with Eatai Roth, we use a locomotion compensator and a visual display to present stimuli to a tethered bee, thus enabling sensorimotor control and neurobiological experimentation in a fixed preparation. Trajectory information from the locomotion compensator can be sent to the visual display and allow the stimuli to move accordingly to the honeybee movement (e.g., close loop).

Chemical Analytical Tools

QuattroMicro LCMS

Waters HPLC-MS

For polar, water-based compounds, we use a Waters Quattro Micro Liquid Chromatograph & Direct Infusion Mass Spectrometer for separation and mass identification of unknowns.

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Agilent GC-MS

For separating light (<600 Da) and non-polar compounds in a complex mixture or scent, we use our Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer.

Aerodyne CIMS

HR-ToF-CIMS (Coming Soon)

Behavioral Tools

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Wind Tunnel

Our wind tunnel is shared between the Daniel and Riffell laboratories and allows free-flight testing of insects. Designed by Armin Hinterwirth, the tunnel has a 1m-by-1m-by-2m working section where laminar airflow enters the section. The tunnel includes a 3D video motion capture system and computer-controlled odor delivery.

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Virtual Arenas

We use the Reiser/Dickinson arena for testing mosquito olfactory, thermal, and visual responses.