New species of tree crickets from Mexico named after CES alumna Natasha Mhatre

tree cricket

The Otomi tree cricket (Oecanthus mhatreae sp. nov.) which was recently described from the tropical deciduous forests of central Mexico has been named after a former CES student – Dr. Natasha Mhatre.  

Natasha gives us a behind-the scenes peek into how a part of the natural world came to bear her name. Read the full story here:

Lake 2018: Conference on Conservation and Sustainable Management of Riverine Ecosystems

lake 2018 conference

Lake 2018: Conference on Conservation and Sustainable Management of Riverine Ecosystems
[The 11th Biennial Lake Conference]
Date: 22-25th November 2018 [25 Nov 2018 – Field Visit]

Details are also available at our web -

Helping on the move: A theoretical study shows that mobility of organisms can promote cooperation.

Previous studies have argued that movement of organisms typically does not favour animals helping or cooperating each other. Therefore, in species that exhibit collective movement and fission-fusion among groups, cooperation is considered unlikely to occur. In a recent paper published in PLoS Computational Biology, Jaideep Joshi (PhD student), Vishwesha Guttal and collaborators from Germany and USA challenge this common perception.

Fan-throated lizards of India are a highly diverse group with at least 15 species, possibly caused by climatic shifts around 8–5 million years ago.

Image credit: Deepak Veerappan

Deepak. V (a postdoc) and Praveen Karanth show that fan-throated lizards consist of at least 15 species, with much of the diversification dating back to 8–5 million years and possibly caused by climatic shifts in India in that period. This is one of the few studies that establishes a link between climate change and adaptation in the Indian subcontinent. The study also highlights the importance of the dry zone as centers of biodiversity.

Dynamic evolution of olfactory receptor genes in mammals: Possible link to anatomy and ecology (Yoshihito Niimura) and
Takushi Kishida, Yoshihito Niimura
Date & Time: 
1 Dec 2017 - 3:00pm
Event Type: 
Invited Seminar
CES Seminar Hall, 3rd Floor, Biological Sciences Building

Dynamic evolution of olfactory receptor genes in mammals: Possible link to anatomy and ecology
Yoshihito Niimura

Olfaction, the sense of smell, is essential for the survival of most animals. It is used for foraging, communicating with conspecifics, and recognizing predators. Diverse odor molecules in the environment are detected by olfactory receptors (ORs) expressed in the olfactory epithelium of the nasal cavity. There are ~400 and ~1,100 OR genes in the human and mouse genomes, respectively, constituting the largest multigene family in mammals. Bioinformatic analyses using various genome sequences revealed that the numbers of OR genes vary greatly among species: African elephants have the largest number of functional OR genes ever examined, with ~2,000, while bottlenose dolphins, which have completely lost the olfactory apparatus, retain only ~10.
In my talk, I would like to introduce our recent study on the degeneration of OR genes in primate evolution, since it provides an excellent example of how anatomical/ecological factors affect the OR gene repertoire in each species. I will also briefly mention preliminary results on the OR genes in Asian elephants.

Population history of whales (and elephants) based on individual whole-genome sequences
Takushi Kishida

Speciation in the open ocean has long been studied, but it remains largely elusive how populations of highly mobile animals, such as whales, in such an open environment become reproductively isolated. Baleen whales of the genus Balaenoptera undertake extensive migrations, and there are few obvious barriers that potentially isolate their populations in the open ocean. In this talk, population history of common minke whales B. acutorostrata and Antarctic minke whales B. bonaerensis was inferred based on the whole genome sequence data of an individual, and discuss about speciation of these two species using such recently-developed genomics tools. I will also talk about very preliminary data on the demographic history of Indian elephants and presence of a bottleneck during the last glacial period.

Fungus-Farming Termites Selectively Bury Weedy Fungi that Smell Different from Crop Fungi by Lakshya Katariya et al., Renee Borges Lab

Worker castes of fungus-growing termite depositing “agar boluses” on the fungal plug of weedy
Pseudoxylaria (from the October issue of Journal of Chemical Ecology). Photo Credit: Nikhil More

Lakshya Katariya and colleagues (Renee M Borges’ lab) discover that fungus-farming termites
selectively bury the weedy fungi that smell different from crop fungi