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Arthur de Fouchier, passionate about smell

The benefits of a Young Scientist Contract

Arthur de Fouchier, Contrat Jeune Scientifique. Inra, Institut d’écologie et des sciences de l’environnement de Paris (UPMC, CNRS, Inra, IRD, Univ. Paris Diderot, Univ. Paris Est Créteil Val de Marne) et Université d’Amsterdam, Institut de la biodiversité et des dynamiques des écosystèmes. © Catherine Foucaud-Scheunemann
Updated on 06/13/2017
Published on 06/08/2017

A sense of smell is vital for insects as they use it to detect in their environment the targets that are crucial for their survival and reproduction. They thus employ their olfactory receptors (membrane proteins which transform odorant signals into electrical signals in the neurons of the insect’s antennae) to detect sources of food, sexual partners or even predators.

From these receptors to the chemical substances released by adult insects to attract a partner of the same species – sexual pheromones – there was only one obstacle that Arthur de Fouchier has overcome successfully over the years.

From olfactory receptors in the African cotton leafworm…

Having obtained Master’s degrees in cellular signalling and neurosciences (Université Paris Sud) and integrative biology and physiology (Université Pierre et Marie Curie), in 2012 Arthur de Fouchier chose to pursue his training by preparing a PhD thesis at the Institute for Ecology and Environmental Sciences in Paris (UPMC-CNRS-INRA-IRD-Univ. Paris Diderot-Univ. Paris Est Créteil Val de Marne) in the context of a Young Scientist Contract associating INRA and the AgroParisTech Doctoral School for Agriculture, Food, Biology, Environment and Health (ABIES).

Leaving aside both mice and rats, he chose to focus on functional characterisation of the chemosensory receptors of a moth, the African cotton leafworm, Spodoptera littoralis, in order to develop innovative approaches regarding crop protection.

Arthur de Fouchier defended his thesis brilliantly in the autumn of 2015, the jury awarding him the highest distinction of summa cum lauda.

…to the pheromone of Heliothis moths

Freshly qualified, he moved to the Netherlands and in November 2015 started work at the University of Amsterdam in the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics.

He turned to studying the pheromones of Lepidoptera and the genetic bases for variations in the composition of pheromones between two species of moths that cause severe damage to crops, Heliothis subflexa and virescens.

Since then, he has already been able to highlight differences in the expression of certain enzymes that are probably involved in pheromone biosynthesis by these two Heliothis species.

Today, Arthur is trying the evidence the role of these enzymes using the CRISPR/Cas9 system, while at the same time thinking about his own future, as he is looking for a laboratory where he can start a new postdoctoral post in the autumn of 2017.

Young Scientist Contracts in brief

The Young Scientist Contract (CJS) is particular in that is organised in the context of collaboration between INRA and a doctoral school, or a partnership with a research institution.  

The contract has an initial term of three years, fixed by law. Two extensions of a maximum of three months can be granted in exceptional circumstances and on condition that the thesis project is completed.
Furthermore, once the thesis has been defended successfully, this contract can be renewed for a further two years, conditional on completing an attachment in another country.

The young scientists concerned benefit from particularly attractive remuneration.