Montana State University

Kevin Wanner

wanner pic

Kevin Wanner,
Associate Professor, PhD.

Office: Marsh Labs Room 8
Lab: Marsh Labs Room 10 or Plant Bioscience Room 333

Office phone:406-994-5663
Lab Phone: 406-994-7267 or 994-5146

Fax: 406-994-6029

Extension Entomology website


My research focuses on the genomics and functional genomics of the insect chemical senses. The last decade has witnessed tremendous progress in our understanding of the molecular and neurological mechanisms of olfaction, including the chemoreceptor superfamily, a large multigene family of G-protein coupled receptors expressed in sensory neurons that detect chemical stimuli in the environment. Technological advances (advent of whole genome sequencing, high-throughput cDNA sequencing and in vitro functional assays for chemoreceptors) have positioned this field for tremendous and exciting progress broadly outside of traditional model organisms. I employ gene annotation, gene phylogeny, high throughput sequencing and gene expression analysis (microarrays, quantitative real-time PCR, northern blotting and in situ hybridization) to guide functional studies. We are currently expressing odorant and gustatory receptor (Ors and Grs) genes in Xenopus oocytes and insect cells to characterize their activation by chemical stimuli. Other methods have included protein expression and purification, western blotting and in vitro ligand binding assays using fluorescent reporters.



  • Ph.D., 2004, University of British Columbia, Department of Plant Science, Vancouver, B.C.
  • Master of Pest Management, 1994, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.
  • B.Sc. (Honors Biology), 1990, University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C.


  • Association for Chemoreception Sciences
  • Entomological Society of Canada
  • Entomological Society of America


Post Doctoral Research Associate, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Entomology

  • Genomics and functional genomics of insect chemosensory genes. Molecular
    and functional characterization of insect odorant and gustatory receptors. Host
    plant volatile receptors, sex and social pheromone receptors. Includes annotation,
    phylogenetics, gene expression (microarrays and qPCR), and heterologous
    expression in Xenopus oocytes and insect cells for in vitro characterization.
  • Molecular approaches to chemical ecology, from genes and genomics to
    behavior and ecology. Volatile collection, GC-MS analysis, in vitro receptorbased
    screening of extracts, behavioral olfactometer assays.


Refereed Journals

Wanner, K.W. and Robertson, H.M. The silkworm gustatory receptor family; annotation and molecular characterization. In Preparation

Anderson, A.R., Wanner, K.W., Trowell, S.C., Robertson, H.M. and Newcomb, R.D. Functional characterization of female-biased silkworm odorant receptors expressed in Sf9 cells. In Preparation

Wanner, K.W., Mooney, A. and Robertson, H.M. A larval-specific lineage of silkworm odorant receptor genes that mediate olfactory attraction to host volatiles. In Preparation

Wanner, K.W., Gadau, J., and Robertson, H.M. Evolution of the chemoreceptor superfamily in the hymenoptera; odorant and gustatory receptors in a parasitic wasp Nasonia vitripennis compared to the honey bee Apis mellifera. In Preparation

Wanner, K.W., Nichols, A.S., Walden, K.K.O., Brockmann, A., Luetje, C.W. and Robertson, H.M. 2007. A honeybee odorant receptor for the queen substance, 9-oxo-2-decenoic acid. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. Accepted.

Wanner, K.W., Anderson, A.R., Trowell, S.C., Theilmann, D.A., Robertson, H.M. and Newcomb, R.D. 2007. Female-biased expression of odorant receptor genes in the adult antennae of the silkworm, Bombyx mori. Insect Molecular Biology. 16:107-19.

Forêt, S., Wanner, K.W. and Maleszka, R. 2007. Chemosensory proteins in the honey bee: insights from the annotated genome, comparative analyses and expressional profiling. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 37:19-28. Epub 2006 Oct 6.

Robertson, H.M. and Wanner, K.W. 2006. The chemoreceptor superfamily in the honey bee Apis mellifera: expansions of the odorant, but not gustatory, receptor families. Genome Research. 16(11):1395-403. Epub 2006 Oct 25.

Wanner, K.W., Isman, M.B., Feng, Q. Plettner, E. and Theilmann, D.A. 2005. Developmental expression patterns of four chemosensory protein genes from the Eastern spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana. Insect Molecular Biology. 14:289-300.

Wanner, K.W., Willis, L.G., Theilmann, D.A., Isman, M.B., Feng, Q. and Plettner, E. 2004. Analysis of the insect os-d-like [chemosensory protein] gene family. Journal of Chemical Ecology 30:883-905.

Wanner, K.W., Helson, B.V. and Harris, B.J. 2002. Laboratory evaluation of two novel strategies to control first-instar gypsy moth larvae with spinosad applied to tree trunks. Pest Management Science 58:817-824.

Helson, B.V. , Lyons, B.D., Wanner, K.W. and Scarr, TA. 2001. Development and validation of a pressurized tree injection device for systemic application of neem-based bioinsecticides to large conifer trees for control of foliage-feeding insects. Canadian Entomologist 133:729-744.

Wanner, K.W., Helson, B.V. and Harris, B.J. 2000. Laboratory and field evaluation of spinosad against the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar. Pesticide Science 56:855-860.

Wanner, K.W., Kostyk, B.C. and Helson, B.V. 1999. Recommendations for control of cone and seed insect pests of black spruce, Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P., with insecticides. Forestry Chronicle 75:685-691.

Wanner, K.W., Helson, B.V. and Kostyk, B.C. 1997. Foliar and systemic applications of neem seed extract for control of spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana (Clem.) (Lepidoptera:Tortricidae), infesting black and white spruce seed orchards. Canadian Entomologist 129:645-655.

Kostyk, B.C. and Wanner, K.W. 1997. Control of insect damage to black spruce seed cones with neem. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry 14(1):40-43.

Wanner, K.W. and Kostyk, B.C. 1995. Evaluation of a neem seed extract against spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana (Clem.), in white spruce, Picea glauca (Moench) Voss., seed orchards. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Ontario 126:91-93.

Books and Book Chapters

Wanner, K.W. and Robertson, H.M. 2008. Odorant and gustatory receptor gene families in the Lepidoptera. In: Molecular biology and genetics of Lepidoptera. Editors, Marian R. Goldsmith and Frantisek Marec. CRC Press, to be published in 2008.