FY2021 Annual Report

Sensory and Behavioural Neuroscience Unit
Assistant Professor Izumi Fukunaga



We have had an exciting year. Two new members - PhD students, Josefine Reuschenbach and Sourjya Nath Baibhabee, have decided to join us.  Scientifically, our hard work from the previous years are starting to bear fruit: the molecular study of the olfactory bulb output neurons - a collaboration between OIST, Duke University and Tsukuba University, and a study that started in 2017 - is now published in Journal of Neuroscience. Aliya Adefuin's work on how odour mixtures are represented in the olfactory bulb in a brain-state depdendent manner is now published in eLife. A progress on the collaboration with Dr. Sekiguchi at Toyohashi University of Technology, to develop an implantable microLED array (funded by OIST's KICKS funding) has been shared with the world. Others are making solid progress to understand more about the parallel olfactory processing in the olfactory bulb and how this is subject to behaviourally driven modulation. We will continue to uncover the secrets of how the brain fine tunes its operation from moment to moment.


1. Staff

  • Dr. Izumi Fukunaga, Principal Investigator
  • Dr. Sander Lindeman, Researcher
  • Dr. Janine Reinert, Researcher
  • Dr. Adam Mago, Researcher
  • Ms. Aliya Adefuin, Graduate Student
  • Ms. Xiaochen Fu, Graduate Student
  • Ms. Josefine Reuschenbach, Graduate Student
  • Ms. Sourjya Baibhabee Nath, Graduate Student
  • Ms. Yu-Pei Huang, Technical Staff
  • Ms. Sayori Gordon, Administrative Assistant

2. Collaborations

  • Dr Hiroaki Matsunami (Duke University)
  • Dr Hiroto Sekiguchi (Toyohashi University of Technology)
  • Dr. Svante Paabo and Dr. Xiangchun Ju (OIST Graduate University)
  • Dr. Christine Luscombe (OIST Graduate University)

3. Activities and Findings

3.1 Molecular study of the olfactory bulb output neurons

A key function of sensory systems in the brain is to extract distinct features from the environment, which often co-exist and implement parallel information processing. Mechanistically, these correspond to unique cell types.

In olfaction, processing of information in the brain starts in the olfactory bulb. Here, the information processing splits into two major pathways, into those carried by mitral cells, and by tufted cells. The former, and larger of the two cell types is of particular interest, due to their wide projection patterns and the long temporal window that is thought to allow mitral cells to carry more complex information. Yet, there has been a lack of selective marker genes or genetic tools to precisely analyse mitral cells and tufted cells. This is the very void that is tackled in the current study. We describe an analysis of publicly available single-cell RNA-seq data in search of unique molecular markers for a key cell type for olfaction, namely the mitral cells, followed by a CRISPR/Cas9-mediated generation of an inducible Cre-driver line using the result. This has now been donated to an international depository (Jackson Laboratory, stock number 036054)


3.2 Flexible GAN-based microLED array film

This is an ongoing collaborative work with Dr. Hiroto Sekiguchi at the Toyohashi Unversity of Technology. The goal is to develop an implantable array of mircroLED that can be used to present patterend light for optogenetic experiments in freely moving animals. We reported our progress - a proof of principle - describinng a new method to synthesise the uLED on an ultra-thin substrate.


4. Publications

4.1 Journals

Sekiguchi H, Matsuhira H, Kanda R, Tada S, Kitade T, Tsutsumi M, Nishikawa A, Loesing A, Fukunaga I, Setogawa S, Ohkawa N: Adhesionable flexible gan-based microled array film to brain surface for in vivo optogenetic stimulation. Applied Physics Express (2022) 15(4):046501.

Adefuin AM, Lindeman S, Reinert JK, Fukunaga I: State-dependent representations of mixtures by the olfactory bulb. eLife (2022) 11(e76882.

Koldaeva A, Zhang C, Huang Y-P, Reinert JK, Mizuno S, Sugiyama F, Takahashi S, Soliman T, Matsunami H, Fukunaga I: Generation and characterization of a cell type-specific, inducible cre-driver line to study olfactory processing. The Journal of Neuroscience (2021) 41(30):6449.

Ackels T, Erskine A, Dasgupta D, Marin AC, Warner TPA, Tootoonian S, Fukunaga I, Harris JJ, Schaefer AT: Fast odour dynamics are encoded in the olfactory system and guide behaviour. Nature (2021).

4.2 Books and other one-time publications

Nothing to report

5. Intellectual Property Rights and Other Specific Achievements

Nothing to report