Professor Daniel Robert
Professor Daniel Robert
Office: C35, D34, D70 Labs: A90, A85, A86a, D70, D70a,
Woodland Road, Bristol
(See a map)
Using insects as model systems, our research contributes to understanding the foundations of the sense of audition. Audition is investigated at multiple levels, from the molecular basis of mechanoreception to the psychophysics of auditory behaviour. The themes thus far have pertained to auditory directional sensitivity, auditory-guided behaviour, nanometre-range sensitivity, frequency selectivity, and the process of active auditory mechanics.
Male mosquitoes use their antennae to detect the minute air-borne vibrations that ensue from the wingbeats of conspecific females. Biomechanical and neurophysiological measurements have shown that the mosquito's auditory system, endowed with a threshold of about 5 nanometres, is one of the most sensitive mechanoreceptor organs thus far described in animals.
Remarkably, such exquisite sensitivity has been shown to be supported by an active physiological process that is in full agreement with the key operational criteria of active sensation uncovered in vertebrates. Active sensation, the process by which sensory organs actively contribute to the mechano-electrical conversion of information, is therefore now studied in insects. Insects constitute precious model systems for such studies due to their biological diversity, small size, surgical accessibility and amenability to genetic dissection.
Insects, flies, scanning laser Doppler vibrometry
- Mechanisms and evolution of hearing in insects
- Acoustic space perception in insects
- Micro and nanomechanics of microscale auditory systems
- Biophysics of sound production
- Nanomechanics of acoustic sensors: from insect ears to smart microphones
Techniques in routine use
Vibration analysis of small samples, acoustic and mechanical actuation
Equipment in routine use
Three-dimensional video tracking, microscanning laser Doppler vibrometry electrophysiology
Interdisciplinary Research collaboration in Nanotechnology (Cambridge-UCL-Bristol)
Sensory Ecology - how organisms acquire information from their environment.
- Clarke, DJ, Whitney, HM, Sutton, GP & Robert, D 2013, Detection and Learning of Floral Electric Fields by Bumblebees. Science, vol 340., pp. 66-69
- Montealegre-Z, F & Robert, D 2012, Wing stridulation in a Jurassic katydid (Insecta, Orthoptera) produced low-pitched musical calls to attract females. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, vol 109., pp. 3868 - 3873
- Payton, O, Picco, L, Robert, D, Raman, A, Homer, M, Champneys, A & Miles, M 2012, High-speed atomic force microscopy in slow motion-understanding cantilever behaviour at high scan velocities. Nanotechnology, vol 23.
- Gagliano, M, Mancuso, S & Robert, D 2012, Towards understanding plant bioacoustics. Trends in plant science, vol 17., pp. 323-325
- Zapata, FM, Jonsson, BT, Brown, KAR, Postles, MC & Robert, D 2012, Convergent evolution between mammalian and insect audition. Science, vol 338., pp. 968-971
- Mhatre, N, Fernando, M, Rohini, B & Robert, D 2012, Changing resonator geometry to boost sound power decouples size and song frequency in a small insect. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Rajaraman, K, Mhatre, N, Jain, M, Rohini, B & Robert, D 2012, Low pass filters and differential tympanal tuning in a paleotropical bushcricket with an unusually low frequency call. The Journal of Experimental Biology.
- Mhatre, N, Monisha, B, Robert, D & Rohini, B 2011, Matching sender and receiver: poikilothermy and frequency tuning in a tree cricket. Journal of Experimental Biology, vol 214., pp. 2569 - 2578
- Avitabile, D, Homer, M, Jackson, J, Robert, D & Champneys, A 2011, Modelling the Active Hearing Process in Mosquitoes. in: Christopher A Shera, Elizabeth S Olson (eds) What Fire is in Mine Ears: Progress in Auditory Biomechanics. American Institute of Physics, pp. 447 - 452
- Montealegre-Z, F & Robert, D 2011, Mechanical filtering for narrow-band hearing in the weta. Journal of Experimental Biology, vol 214., pp. 778 - 785
Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system