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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Invertebrate Facility

The Invertebrate facility provides a range of controlled environments ready to accept invertebrate species from the UK and abroad including pest species licensed by DEFRA. The Facility maintains a variety of cultures to support undergraduate learning including Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches for mating behaviour Supporting Undergraduate Practicals. It is located at the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus in the Life Sciences Building (85).

Established in the 1990’s as an Insectary the move to the Life Sciences building in 2009 saw the facility expand with a purpose-built DEFRA-compliant suite of controlled environment rooms (CER's), lab work stations (for Drosophila, locusts, bees, and other invertebrates) and a media preparation and processing area.

Beekeeping Facilities
Beekeeping Facilities
Supporting undergraduate practicals
Supporting undergraduate practicals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past 20 years invertebrate cultures housed in the Facility have ranged from tropical pests carrying human diseases such as Tsetse Fly and Mosquitoes through pests carrying plant diseases or attacking crops such as aphids, moths, tropical fruit flies and leaf cutting ants to research models including Drosophila species and Locusts. A variety of cultures have been maintained to supply to undergraduate practical classes such as Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches for behavioural studies and Daphnia for pharmacology courses.

The Facility has established links with the Plant Growth Facility to grow the plants required as food for a variety of Invertebrates. The Plant Growth Facility itself also has two DEFRA-compliant (escape proof) Plant Growth CER's which are capable of controlling parameters for insect culture and optimising plant growth.

The facility provides a dedicated space for invertebrate quarantine, culture and bioassays. Bioassays can range from wind tunnel assays investigating odour trails, assays of multitrophic interactions between plants, plant pests and their predators and behavioural studies including locomotor assays addressing neurodegeneration and daily timekeeping. On account of the versatility, analytical power and convenience of invertebrate research in the facility it has been heavily involved in undergraduate, postgraduate and funded research work.

Biomechanics
Biomechanics

The facility consists of a suite of DEFRA Plant Health Licensed Controlled Environment Rooms (CER’s), a dedicated media preparation and processing area and laboratory space equipped with freezers, refrigerators, incubators, and work benches supplied with piped carbon dioxide. User-owned equipment such as microscopes, dedicated culture cabinets, wind tunnels, luminescence counters and behavioural monitoring systems have been accommodated in various areas of the facility.

The CER suite consists of 9 DEFRA compliant growth rooms capable of controlling temperature between +10ᵒC and +40ᵒ C (to within ±1ᵒC) and lighting levels can be controlled, using high frequency fluorescent lights, to improve illumination from 10% to 100%.

Changing day and night temperatures can also be programmed using the Fitoview Control and monitoring software. The software can send alarm notifications via email if parameters fluctuate outside defined characters and produce customisable chart screens showing temperature and lighting fluctuations over time. Fitoview also runs a daily-automated backup of data that can be imported into spreadsheet packages such as Microsoft Excel for analysis. 

Facility personnel can provide help and training in insect rearing techniques and the fine details of the DEFRA Plant Health Licence. 

Costings for the Invertebrate Facility.

Giant African Land Snail
Giant African Land Snail

Diesel exhaust stops honeybees from finding the flowers they want to forage.

Exposure to common air pollutants found in diesel exhaust pollution can affect the ability of honeybees to recognise floral odours, new University of Southampton research shows.

 

Funding for fruit fly research projects addressing our body clock and its biological impact.

 

Herman Wijnen uses the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as an experimental model as the molecular and cellular ‘clock' mechanisms of insects closely resemble those of mammals, including humans. The availability of powerful assays and convenient culture conditions make the fruit fly system ideally suited for the planned laboratory research.

Drosophila used to model aspects of human neurodegenerative diseases in order to unravel the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the abnormal proteins implicated in these diseases disturb neuronal function.

Amrit Mudher uses Drosophila models of Alzheimer's Disease, Fronto-temporal Dementia and Huntingdon's Disease to shed light on understanding how the abnormal proteins of these diseases (Ab peptide, tau protein and Huntington proteins) disturb day-to-day neuronal activities such as axonal transport and synaptic transmission.

Apiculture
Apiculture

Rachel Fitzearle - Facility Supervisor

Herman Wijnen - Chair of Invertebrate Facility Users Group

Nematode
Nematode

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