Miss Di Liang


Research skills

Scanning electron microscopy


Gene cloning

Transcriptome and peptidome analysis

Gene expression assay

In vitro receptor assay

Research rationale

Humans view smell (olfaction) as a luxury, yet for most animals smell is the primal sense, the driving force behind how they sense and respond to their environment. The molecular mechanism for olfaction has been established in humans, mouse, Drosophila and nematode, which are all land based animals. It is still a mystery as to how aquatic animals smell and respond to chemical cues despite the essential role of chemical signals for all aspects of their survival - impacting directly on metabolism, reproduction, feeding, settlement, dispersal and predator avoidance. This research will be the first to seek to understand the molecular basis of olfaction in aquatic animals.

• The following research questions are to be answered:

• What are the chemoreceptors that used in gastropod molluscs olfaction?

• How do aquatic animals perceive and respond odorants in their environment, using gastropod molluscs as our models?

• What are the neuroanatomical features of the olfactory organ?

• What are the molecular components (genes and proteins) that enable odorant detection and neural processing?

• What are the common features that aquatic gastropod to smell and how do these compare with land gastropod?

• What is the molecular basis for olfactory regulation of metabolism?

• How can the findings be used to enhance biomedicine and aquaculture?

Research objectives

To perform a comparative neuroanatomical characterisation of olfactory organs in gastropod molluscs

To characterise the molecular basis for odorant detection in a gastropod mollusc, including the identification of olfactory receptors

To perform a comparative analysis of olfactory receptors within aquatic and terrestrial gastropod

Functional characterisation of olfactory receptors in gastropod molluscs

Research grants/ travel grants for HDR students

Faculty HDR Student Research Grant: CSIRO, Australia; 2014

Project name: Candidate olfaction genes identified within the Gastropod tentacle