Craig Montell

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology


A central question in neurobiology is how animal behavior and decision making is controlled by the environment. Using molecular genetic, optogenetic, thermogenetic, electrophysiological, biochemical and cell biological approaches in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, our laboratory is decoding the receptors, ion channels and neuronal circuits that are critically important in allowing flies to sense the outside world, and impact on decisions ranging from food selection to choosing the ideal thermal landscape, mate selection and others. One of the key sensory receptors that we are characterizing are TRP channels, which in one animal or another responds to virtually all types of sensory inputs and impacts on a wide range of behaviors. We are also deciphering polymodal sensory roles of rhodopsins, gustatory receptors and ionotropic receptors, and defining the behaviors that they control.