Institute for Integrative Genome Biology


Anand RayAnandasankar Ray

Associate Professor;
Director, Center for Disease Vector Research

Mailing Address:

Genomics /2234B
University of California
Riverside, CA 92521

Phone: (951) 827-5998
Email: anand.ray@ucr.edu

UCR Living the Promise Profile (2010)


PhD 2005 Yale University
MS 1998 Jawaharlal Nehru University

College/Division Affiliation:

College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

Center/Inst Affiliation(s):

Center for Disease Vector Research

Areas Of Expertise:

Neurophysiology and Behavior, Neurodevelopment and Patterning; Insect Molecular Biology and Genetics; Bioinformatics and Cheminformatics; Genomics

Awards / Honors:

2013  Innovation Honoree of the Month by the City of Riverside
2009  White Hall Foundation Research Grant Recipient
2009  Grand Challenges Explorations Grant Recipient, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2009   Runners up, Drosophila Image Award, Genetics Society of America
2006   Polak Young Investigator Award, Association of Chemoreception Sciences
2005   John Spangler Nicholas Prize, Outstanding Doctoral Candidate in Experimental Zoology

Research Summary:

The main focus of this laboratory is to understand the molecular, neuronal, genetic and physiological basis of insect chemoreception and behavior. At the first level we would like to study odor receptor protein function. At the second level, we would like to analyze neuronal circuits in the brain that are involved in generating odor guided behaviors. Finally we would like to investigate the mechanisms underlying olfactory system development.

Most insects can detect and discriminate between a wide variety of odorants which is critical for a number of behaviors like finding food, mating, and oviposition. Odor molecules are detected by 7-transmembrane Odor Receptor proteins present on the surface of neurons in the olfactory organs. A large family of 60 Odor receptor (Or) genes was first identified in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster,which subsequently enabled the identification of similar families from genomes of several other insect species. The odor responses of individual odor receptors can be analyzed in great detail using an array of powerful molecular, genetic, bioinformatic and physiological means.

The molecular basis of olfaction in insect vectors of disease

Insects like mosquitoes, tsetse flies, sand flies, house flies and ticks carry a large number of debilitating diseases like malaria, yellow fever, dengue, lymphatic filariasis, river blindness, african sleeping sickness, chagas disease, plague, west nile virus and typhus. Many insect vectors of disease find their human hosts through the sense of smell. We will study the function of odor receptor genes from these species to better understand the molecular basis of insect-host attraction.

Identification of odor receptors that guide insect - host and insect - insect interactions will provide us with new opportunities in pest control. We will employ high-throughput laboratory based functional assays to identify volatile compounds that can activate, inhibit or block odor receptors very efficiently. These compounds will be tested for behavior modifying effects and for usefulness as trapping agents, repellents, or masking agents.

The cellular basis of olfaction in agricultural pests

A large amount of agricultural crops and stored produce are consumed by insects like flies, moths and beetles. Many of these agricultural pests locate their food using olfactory cues. We will study the function of odor receptor genes from these insects to better understand the molecular basis of host attraction.

Computational approaches to decoding receptor-odor interaction

A fundamental challenge in the field of olfaction is that little is know about how odor receptors can detect a wide variety of volatile chemicals with high degrees of specificity and sensitivity. We are implementing chemical informatic approaches to predict receptor-odor interactions and applying bioinformatics to investigate receptor properties.

Development and patterning of Odor Receptor Neurons

Odor Receptor gene choice
Odor discrimination is based on the differential activities of Odor Receptor Neurons (ORNs), which in turn depend on the odor receptors that the ORNs express. This raises an intriguing problem: how do individual ORNs select, from among a large Or gene family, which receptor to express? An individual ORN class expresses only one or a small number of receptors, an individual receptor is expressed in only one ORN class of the fly, and the system exhibits a highly stereotyped receptor-to-neuron map. In earlier studies we have used computational algorithms and phylogenetic analysis to identify positive and negative regulatory elements. Mutational analysis shows that this formidable problem is solved via three classes of mechanisms: by elements that specify the expression of Or genes in the correct olfactory organ, by positive elements that activate Or genes in a subset of ORN classes within an organ, and by negative elements that restrict expression to only one ORN class. However very little is known about transcription factors that bind to these cis-elements and about the developmental program that determine the appropriate expression pattern of these transcription factors?

We are interested in identifying transcription factors that bind to these cis-regulatory elements. Furthermore we are interested in looking at mechanisms that in turn affect activation of the transcription factor patterns.

Related Press Releases:


Selected Publications:

List of publications from PubMed

Lab Personnel: +

Li, Nan
Laboratory Assistant —
McInally, Shane
Laboratory Assistant —
Perecko, Jason
Agricultural Technician —
Tharadra, Sana
Laboratory Assistant —
Boyle, Sean
Graduate Student Researcher —
Pham, Christine
Graduate Student Researcher —
Scott, Christi
Graduate Student Researcher —
Tauxe, Genevieve
Graduate Student Researcher —
Turner, Stephanie
Graduate Student Researcher —

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Genomics Information

Institute of Integrative Genome Biology
2150 Batchelor Hall

Tel: (951) 827-7177
E-mail: Aurelia Espinoza, Managing Director