Empowering the Future of Neuroscience

Empowering the Future of Neurosceince

Spehr Group

In most mammals, conspecific chemical communication controls complex behaviors. Information about individuality, social and reproductive status is conveyed by an elusive class of chemical cues – pheromones. The highly reproducible character of pheromone responses offers a unique opportunity to uncover the neuronal basis of genetically programmed behavior. Despite its fundamental significance, however, the basic chemosensory mechanisms of social communication remain largely unknown. To address these issues, the Chemosensation Lab has developed a multi-faceted approach to uncover the mechanisms underlying mammalian pheromone sensing. My research, therefore, focuses on the molecular and cellular architecture of chemosensory communication in conspecific mammals – an innovative and interdisciplinary field of neurobiology.

What are we offering?

3D superresolution (STED) microscopy & tissue clearing

What are we interested in for collaboration?

In vivo miniscope calcium imaging and Analysis of mouse social behavior

Discover our homepage here.

To learn more about Prof. Dr. Marc Spehr, follow him on ORCID.


We combine molecular, biochemical, (electro)physiological, and live-cell imaging methods with tissue clearing, whole-brain connectivity mapping, superresolution microscopy, and analysis of social behavior in wildtype and mutant mouse models.

5 selected publications

  1. Zhang Y-F, Cifuentes LV, Wright KN, Bhattarai JP, Mohrhardt J, Fleck D, Janke E, Jiang C, Cranfill SL, Goldstein N, Schreck M, Moberly AH, Yu Y, Arenkiel BR, Betley JN, Luo W, Stegmaier J, Wesson DW*, Spehr M*, Fuccillo MV*, Ma M* (2021) Ventral striatal Islands of Calleja neurons control grooming in mice. Nature Neuroscience 24: 1699–1710.                                * corresponding author
  2. Kaur AW, Ackels T, Kuo T-H, Cichy A, Dey S, Hays C, Kateri M, Logan DW, Marton TF, Spehr M, Stowers L (2014) Murine Pheromone Proteins Constitute a Context-Dependent Combinatorial Code Governing Multiple Social Behaviors. Cell 157: 676-688.
  3. Fluegge D, Moeller LM, Cichy A, Gorin M, Weth A, Veitinger S, Lohmer S, Corrazza S, Neuhaus EM, Baumgartner W, Spehr J, Spehr M (2012) Mitochondrial Ca2+ mobilization is a key element in olfactory signaling. Nature Neuroscience 15: 754-762.
  4. Rivière S, Challet L, Fluegge D, Spehr M, Rodriguez I (2009) Formyl peptide receptor-like proteins are a novel family of vomeronasal chemosensors. Nature 459: 574-577.
  5. Spehr M, Gisselmann G, Poplawski A, Riffell JA, Wetzel CH, Zimmer RK, Hatt H (2003) Identification of a testicular odorant receptor mediating human sperm chemotaxis. Science 299: 2054-2058.