Professor Horch's Lab

Professor Horch's LabThe Horch lab uses the cricket model system to examine the molecular neurobiological basis of a number of areas including neuronal regeneration and behavior.  Unlike many neuronal systems, the auditory system of the cricket demonstrates robust neuronal growth in response to denervation.  Removing one ear induces auditory interneurons to sprout new dendrites, grow abnormally across the mid-line, and form synapses with intact auditory neurons from the opposite ear.  Currently, students in my lab are using molecular biology to clone the genes for guidance cues from crickets.  We hope to examine the expression of these cues to assess if they might be involved in this regeneration.  We are also examining the 3-dimensional characteristics of these regenerated neurons.  The lab regularly uses techniques such as dye backfills, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, PCR, and confocal microscopy.  We are also attempting to develop a method for transfecting living neurons in crickets.

The Horch lab is currently collaborating with Dr. Ron Hoy's lab at Cornell University. Dr. Hoy is an expert on the neurobiology of insects. Our lab groups meet several times a year, in Ithaca NY and at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting. Learn more about work in Dr. Hoy's lab:

In addition to the regeneration work, we are interested in how molecules influence behavior.  Specifically, we are examining how the neurohormone octopamine influences aggressive interactions between male crickets.  In our experiments, we are trying to turn "duds into studs" by giving the losing cricket octopamine prior to fighting the winning cricket.   Check out the movies and still images below. Please be patient, as some of the movie clips are large and may take a moment to load.

Summer Research

summer research students at bowdoinThe Neuroscience department awards its outstanding students with the opportunity to do serious lab research over the Summer. Stipends are available and projects are often co-authored for publication. This Summer has again yielded outstanding original research in the filed. Here are some sample projects:

John Hobbs '15
The effects of hormones on the sexual dimorphic auditory dendritic compensatory regeneration of the Cricket Gryllus bimaculatus
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Adam Zhang '14
Quantifying Changes in Semaphorin Expression after Deafferentation in Gryllus Bimaculatus
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Ketura Berry '13
Investigating Sema2a's Causative Role in Cricket Compensatory Growth
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Sarah Solomon
Molecular Characterization of Dendritic Regeneration in Gryllus bimaculatus
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Stephen Mallon
Molecular Characterization of Invertebrate Neural Regeneration
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Suen Wong
Compensatory Regeneration in the Auditory interneuron AN2 of the Cricket Gryllus Bimaculatus
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Laura Welsh
The Role of Octopamine in Male Cricket Aggression
read a summary of the project »