Silke Sachse studies the neuronal basis of olfaction in insects with a special focus on Drosophila melanogaster. By combining neurogenetic tools with advanced techniques, such as in vivo two-photon microscopy, neuronal tracing and reconstructions, as well as a variety of behavioral assays, her group has identified crucial neuronal mechanisms that enable an animal to encode, process and interpret the vast array of odors and to accomplish odor-guided decisions.
Silke Sachse received her PhD in 2002 at the FU Berlin (with Giovanni Galizia) which was awarded with the T.I.L.L. Photonics Technology Award for excellence in developing novel techniques in neurosciences. Afterwards she moved to NYC for a postdoc with Leslie Vosshall at Rockefeller University. In 2006 she started as a project group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena in the Department of Bill Hansson, before she was recipient of a BMBF grant to establish her own independent junior research group at the MPI in 2008. In 2016 she received a call for a W2-professorship at the University of Würzburg, and decided to stay as an independent Research Group Leader (W2) at the MPI in Jena.
From brain to behavior: Dissecting olfactory circuits in Drosophila
My group is deciphering how neural circuits organize olfactory inputs to control behavior in insects with the emphasis on Drosophila melanogaster. Most animals rely on their olfactory system to accomplish behavioral tasks that guarantee their survival and reproduction. Since the odor space consists of an enormous, nearly infinite number of possible stimuli, olfactory systems require special strategies to perceive, identify and evaluate the highly diverse odor information from the environment. We identified and dissected in detail the neuronal correlates to specific behavioral outputs resulting from the perception of odor mixtures, we elucidated the neural composition of olfactory glomeruli, and we were able to show that higher brain centers decode the behavioral value of an odor rather than its specificity. Currently, we investigate whether the olfactory circuitry is hardwired or can be modulated by previous experience and/or associative learning. The talk will summarize our recent insights into coding strategies and plastic components of the olfactory circuitry of Drosophila.