Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology

Anupama Arun Dahanukar

Office: (951) 827-5742
Fax: (951) 827-3086
2234C Genomics Bldg.
Office Hours: , 2pm - 3pm
Email: anupama.dahanukar@ucr.edu

Anupama Arun Dahanukar, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Duke University, Ph.D., Genetics



Our primary research interest is to understand molecular and neural mechanisms underlying chemosensory behavior. We focus on the gustatory system of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, which although numerically simple is capable of sensing a wide array of chemical cues and driving appropriate behavioral choices for feeding, courting, and selecting sites to lay eggs. 

We focus on three main lines of investigation. First, we are interested in understanding the molecular and cellular basis of taste recognition by identifying receptors involved in deletion of specific taste cues and investigating their structure and function Second, we are interested in understanding how taste sensory information is processed and interpreted to engender specific behaviors, for which we are using anatomical and functional criteria to trace taste circuits. Third, we are interested in the effect of other sensory input, prior experience and nutritional status on various aspects of feeding behavior. We use a multi-disciplinary approach including molecular, genetic, ontogenetic, electrophysiological, behavioral and imaging techniques to study these questions.

Fly on a banana. "Photo credit: Dong-Hwan Choe"


  • 2017 Chen, Y.-C. & Dahanukar, A. Molecular and cellular organization of taste neurons in adult Drosophila pharynx. Cell Rep 21(10):2978-2991.  doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.11.041.
  • 2017 Dahanukar, A. & Han, C. A bitter taste of the sun makes egg-laying flies run. GENETICS 205(2):467-469. doi: 10.1534/genetics.116.196352.
  • 2017 Ganguly, A., Pang, L., Duong, V.-K., Lee, A., Schoniger, H., Varady, E. & Dahanukar, A. A molecular and cellular context-dependent role for Ir76b in detection of amino acid taste. Cell Rep 18(3):737-750. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.12.071.
  • 2016 Boyle, S.M., Guda, T., Pham, C.K., Tharadra, S.K., Dahanukar, A. & Ray, A. Natural DEET substitutes that are strong olfactory repellents of mosquitoes and flies. bioRxiv 060178; doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/060178.
  • 2015 Freeman, E.G. & Dahanukar, A. Molecular neurobiology of Drosophila taste. Curr Opin Neurobiol 34:140-148.
  • 2015 LeDue, E.E., Chen, Y.-C., Jung, A.Y., Lomeli, A.M., Dahanukar, A. & Gordon, M.D. Pharyngeal sense organs drive robust sugar consumption in Drosophila. Nat Commun 6:6667. doi: 10.1038/ncomms76667.
  • 2015 Kain, P. & Dahanukar, A. Secondary taste neurons that convey sweet taste and starvation in the Drosophila brain. Neuron 85(4): 819-832.
  • 2014 Scott, C. A. & Dahanukar, A. Sensory coding of olfaction and taste. In “Handbook of Drosophila behavior genetics”, Joshua Dubnau (ed.), Cambridge University Press.
  • 2014 Kwon, J.Y., Dahanukar, A., Weiss, L.A. & Carlson, J.R. A map of taste neuron projections in the Drosophila CNS. J Biosci 39(4): 565-574.
  • 2014 Ling, F., Dahanukar, A., Weiss, L.A., Kwon, J.Y. & Carlson, J.R. The molecular and cellular basis of taste codings in the legs of Drosophila. J Neurosci 34(21): 7148-7164.
  • 2014 Liu, Y., Pearce, M.W., Honda, T., Johnson, T.K., Charlu, S., Sharma, K.R., Imad, M., Burke, R.E., Zinsmaier, K.E., Ray, A., Dahanukar, A., de Bruyne, M. & Warr, C.G. The Drosophila melanogaster phospholipid flippase dATP8B is required for odorant receptor function. PLoS Genetics. 10(3):e1004209. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004209.
  • 2014 Freeman, E.G., Wisotsky, Z. & Dahanukar, A. Detection of sweet tastants by a conserved group of insect gustatory receptors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111(4): 1598-1603.
  • 2013 Charlu, S., Wisotsky, Z., Medina, A. & Dahanukar, A. Acid sensing by sweet and bitter taste neurons in Drosophila melanogaster. Nat Commun 4:2042, doi: 10.1038/ncomms3042.
  • 2011 Wisotsky, Z., Medina, A., Freeman, E. & Dahanukar, A. Evolutionary differences in food preferences rely on Gr64e, a receptor for glycerol. Nat Neurosci 14(12): 1534-1541.
  • 2011 Kwon, J.Y., Dahanukar, A., Weiss, L.A. & Carlson, J.R. Molecular and cellular organization of the taste system in the Drosophila larva. J Neurosci 31(43): 15300-15309.
  • 2011 Weiss, L.A., Dahanukar, A., Kwon, J.Y., Banerjee, D. & Carlson, J.R. The molecular and cellular basis of bitter taste in Drosophila. Neuron 69(2): 258-272.
  • 2011 Dahanukar, A. & Ray, A. Courtship, aggression and avoidance: Pheromones, receptors and neurons for social behaviors in Drosophila. Fly 5(1): 58-63.
  • 2010 Benton, R. and Dahanukar, A. Chemosensory coding in single sensilla. In “Drosophila neurobiology methods: A companion to the Cold Spring Harbor Neurobiology of Drosophila course,” Scott Waddell, Bing Zhang and Marc Freeman (ed.), CSHL press. pp.247-276.
  • 2007 Dahanukar, A., Lei, Y-T., Kwon, J. Y. and Carlson, J.R. Two Gr genes underlie sugar reception in Drosophila. Neuron 56(3): 503-516.
  • 2007 Kwon, J.Y., Dahanukar, A., Weiss, L.A. & Carlson, J.R. The molecular basis of CO2 reception in Drosophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104(9): 3574-3578.
  • 2006 Hallem, E. A., Dahanukar, A., and Carlson, J. R. Insect odor and taste receptors. Annu Rev Entomol 51: 113-135.
  • 2005 Dahanukar, A., Hallem, E. A., and Carlson, J. R. Insect chemoreception. Curr Opin Neurobiol 15(4): 423-430.
  • 2005 Coelho, C. M., Kolevski, B., Bunn, C., Walker, C., Dahanukar, A., and Leevers, S. J. Growth and cell survival are unevenly impaired in pixie mutant wing discs. Development 132(24): 5411-5424.
  • 2004 Perry, J., Dahanukar, A. & Carlson, J.R. Analysis of taste receptors in Drosophila. In “New Frontiers in Insect Neuroscience,” Thomas A. Christensen (ed.), CRC Press pp.239-264.
  • 2003 Chyb, S., Dahanukar, A., Wickens, A., & Carlson, J. R. Drosophila Gr5a encodes a taste receptor tuned to trehalose. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 100 Suppl 2: 14526-14530.
  • 2001 Dahanukar, A., Foster, K., van der Goes van Naters, W. & Carlson, J.R. A Gr receptor is required for response to the sugar trehalose in taste neurons in Drosophila. Nat Neurosci 4(12): 1182-1186.
  • 1999 Dahanukar, A., Walker, J.A. & Wharton, R.P. Smaug, a novel RNA-binding protein operates a translational switch in Drosophila. Mol Cell 4(2): 209-218.
  • 1996 Dahanukar, A. & Wharton, R.P. The Nanos gradient in Drosophila embryos is generated by translational regulation. Genes & Dev 10(20): 2610-2620.

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