Optimization and distribution of a precise odour delivery device

Reliable odour delivery is a bottleneck in olfactory neuroscience research. Importantly, reproducibility between and even within labs is often not guaranteed. Moreover, precise control of the stimulus is of particular importance for investigations of recurrent modulating inputs in order to dissociate their effects from primary sensory signalling, and hence essential in the context of our RU. In this Z-project we aim to develop a standardized odour delivery device (ODD) framework for use at both rodent and insect RU labs. This effort will be based on our recent temporally precise and modular ODD (Ackels et al. 2021). In this project, we will gather the specific needs of all participating labs with regard to their existing instrumentation and experimental setups, next design hardware and importantly a professional, standardized and version-controlled control software, and finally, roll out a first-generation ODD to all participating labs within the second half of the funding period. Through careful development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) together with two selected pilot labs (with experimental methods providing high temporal resolution; rodent: Rothermel, insect: Strube-Bloss) in an interactive process, we will ensure maximal reliability and usability across the RU. With individual RU students rotating into the Zproject lab for periods of 2-4 weeks, we will ensure not only continued support for the ODD, rapid and productive feedback for future developments but they will also act as an anchor point within RU collaborations. Furthermore, after the development and successful roll-out of standard and versatile odour delivery devices we will make the design and SOPs freely available, further supporting the international visibility of the RU.