May 15, 2021

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Professors of the UPR in outstanding research in a prestigious scientific journal

The American scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) displayed on its cover a study by a group of scientists – several of them from the Río Piedras Campus of the University de Puerto Rico – commanded by professor and researcher Dr. Riccardo Papa on the subject “Divergence of chemosensing during the early stages of speciation” the report reported in a press release.

This study -possible thanks to a contribution of $ 150,000 from the Advanced Research Grant of the Grant Program of the Trust for Science, Technology and Research of Puerto Rico (FCTIPR) and a co-financing from to the National Science Foundation (NSF ) – is the product of great teamwork among members of Papa's laboratory, researcher and professor in the Department of Biology of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Río Piedras Campus of the University of Puerto Rico.

Dr. Papa's group explored the chemical perception of sensory tissue (antennae, mouth, and legs) between two species of divergent butterflies. Among their results, scientists at UPR-RP discover that differences in what these butterfly species can smell may have consequences on their evolution. Significantly, Dr. Papa's group identifies chemical detection barriers with impact consequences, specifically for the choice of the partner and the host plant.

The publication was selected for the cover of the prestigious PNAS magazine for its great scientific contribution on the interesting subject of animal communication, as indicated.

For doctor Luis A. Ferrao rector of the Río Piedras Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, “prominence with the that this study is displayed in a publication as prestigious as that of PNAS is a categorical testimony to the quality of the researchers at our Campus ”. “To Dr. Riccardo Papa and his team of collaborators – he adds – our warmest congratulations for being, with his work and dedication, a faithful example of the DNA that runs through our campus.”

For his part, Andreica Maldonado director of the FCTIPR Grant Program stated: “Our mission in the Trust is to advance science in Puerto Rico; and provide support to scientists with promising projects. Dr. Papa studies, with novel methods, the butterflies in Puerto Rico, thus allowing a deeper understanding of the genetic and chemical bases of plant-insect interactions. "

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