Research Expertise and Interest

insect behavior, evolutionary biology, ants, genetics, genomics, Argentine ants, kidnapper ants, chemical ecology, pheromones, urban parks, East Bay Regional Parks

Research Description

Neil Tsutsui is the Michelbacher Chair of Systematic Entomology, and Director of the Central Sierra Field Research Stations.  

The research in Tsutsui lab focuses on ants and bees - how they communicate, why they behave the ways they do, and their evolution. Researchers work in both the field and the lab, using a variety of different approaches. They are especially interested in using techniques from chemical ecology to understand pheromone evolution and performing genetic and genomic analyses to understand natural selection and behavioral evolution.

They are also passionate about preserving biodiversity and open spaces and, therefore, create and share educational materials and events with people of all ages.

In the News

Creating a New Trail to Solve an Old Problem

Ants normally distinguish friend from foe by detecting colony-specific molecules called pheromones that coat their bodies. Neil Tsutsui has identified the recognition pheromones and other chemical signals, and has shown in experiments that the ants’ behavior can be tweaked by exposing them to identical, environmentally harmless synthetic pheromones.

Bakar Fellows advance commercially promising research

In its first year, the initiative will give research innovations by six early-career UC Berkeley faculty members — including technologies to move prosthetic limbs with the power of thought and to control Argentine ants using their own pheromones — a significant boost from the lab to the market.

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