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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Memphis
  • Duane D McKenna
  • (901) 678-1386
  • Stephanie Haddad
  • Robert F Mitchell II
Award Date:06/16/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 1,271,532
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 642,418
  • FY 2021=$642,418
Start Date:09/01/2021
End Date:08/31/2026
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Investigating chemosensory evolution in longhorned beetles using a comparative phylogenomic framework that integrates genomic, morphological, and biochemical data
Federal Award ID Number:2110053
DUNS ID:055688857
Parent DUNS ID:878135631
Program:Systematics & Biodiversity Sci
Program Officer:
  • Katharina Dittmar
  • (703) 292-7799

Awardee Location

Street:Administration 315
Awardee Cong. District:09

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Memphis
Street:Administration 315
Cong. District:09

Abstract at Time of Award

Longhorned beetles are a highly diverse insect group with over 30,000 species. They feed on dead wood and also plants; in addition, they pollinate flowers. Thus, they have an important positive ecological impact. However, sometimes they can be serious pests of living trees and timber. In spite of the ecological significance of the group and its rich diversity, the evolutionary relationship of major groups of longhorned beetles remains a mystery. This research will reconstruct the evolution of the group by sequencing genomes of key species and comparing the differences. Simultaneously, the project will explore why longhorned beetles have become so diverse and how this is linked to their namesake long “horns,” or antennae. These horns are highly sensitive chemosensory organs that are used to smell and taste the environment. The latest techniques in microscopy, imaging, and genomics will be used to study longhorned beetle antennae, identify the genes that detect odors and tastes, and reconstruct how changes in these organs have contributed to the success of the group. This information will help assist efforts to control the longhorned beetles that are pests on trees and timber, while avoiding harm to species that have positive ecological impacts. Moreover, the knowledge gained will help improve our understanding of chemosensation in other groups of arthropods that also include ecologically beneficial species and pests with major economic impacts. Finally, this project will enable science mentoring, education, and outreach, through training undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, teaching K-12 students about insect biodiversity, and widely sharing new data and educational materials. This project will produce the first comprehensive, large-scale phylogeny of longhorned beetles, which comprises a highly diverse radiation of primarily wood-feeding animals, in order to obtain a detailed understanding of insect chemosensory biology and evolution. Data from > 500 nuclear genes obtained from > 600 species via anchored hybrid enrichment sequencing will be considered, and extensive new data on the genetics and morphology of the group will be gathered. Scanning electron microscopy will be used to compare the diversity and variation of antennal chemosensory organs across several longhorned beetle lineages. The research will yield antennal transcriptomes and annotated chemoreceptor and pheromone receptor gene repertoires, which will be used to conduct a comparative analysis of receptor chemistry. In this manner, the evolution of longhorned beetle chemical communication will be determined. The research will also help reveal how ecological distinctions among longhorned beetles are related to differences in chemosensory organs and chemoreceptor repertoires. This will enhance understanding of the evolution of different modes of longhorned beetle chemical communication and elucidate how the origins of these disparate modes may have influenced diversification. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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