Staff Profile

Dr Richard Newcomb
Chief Scientist
Senior Management Team

More information about our research

Dr Richard Newcomb


BSc, Zoology, Cellular & Molecular Biology, University of Auckland, New Zealand
MSc, Zoology, University of Auckland, New Zealand
PhD, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Australian National University, Australia

Research Interests & Activities

Molecular mechanisms and evolution of animal chemosensory systems, with applications in sensing technologies and pest control from understanding insect olfaction and in food science from human olfaction. Development of molecular tools for biodiversity assessment and genomics, particularly of invertebrates.

Honours & Awards

2019 Honorary Professor, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand

2018 Invited keynote address, International Society Chemical Ecology, Budapest, Hungary

2018 Marsden Council, Convener CMP panel

2017 Review Panel Member, Plant Science, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands 

2016 Review Panel Member, Research School of Biology, Australian National University

2015 Marsden Grant recipient (Principal Investigator)

2015 Invited speaker, NZBio, Wellington, New Zealand

2015 Invited speaker, International Society Chemical Ecology, Stockholm, Sweden

2014 Programme Committee, International Symposium of Taste and Olfaction, Japan, 2016

2014 Programme Committee, International Congress of Entomology, USA, 2016

2014 Performance Based Research Funding, Sector Reference Group, Tertiary Education Commission

2014 Plant & Food Research Chairman’s Award

Professional Memberships

Australasian Association of ChemoSensory Sciences 

The Genetics Society of AustralAsia 

Society for Chemical Ecology 

Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution 

New Zealand Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 

Associate Editor, Journal of Chemical Ecology 

Editorial Board, Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Editorial Board, Chemical Senses

Key Publications

THOMA, M., MISSBACH, C., JORDAN, M.D., GROSSE-WILDE, E., NEWCOMB R.D., HANSSON, B.S. (2019) Transcriptome surveys in silverfish suggest a multistep origin of the insect odorant receptor gene family. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7: 281.

DOPHEIDE, A., TOOMAN, L.K., GROSSER, S., AGABITI, B., RHODE, B., XIE, D., STEVENS, M.I., NELSON, N., DRUMMOND, A.J., BUCKLEY, T.R., NEWCOMB, R.D. (2019) Estimating the biodiversity of terrestrial invertebrates on a forested island using DNA barcodes and metabarcoding data. Ecological Applications e01877.

DOPHEIDE, A., XIE, D., BUCKLEY, T.R., DRUMMOND, A.J., NEWCOMB R.D. (2018) Impacts of DNA extraction and PCR on DNA metabarcoding estimates of biodiversity. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 2018: 1-14.

GRAPPUTO, A., THRIMAWITHANA A.H., STEINWENDER, B., NEWCOMB, R.D. (2018) Differential gene expression in the evolution of sex pheromone communication in New Zealand’s endemic leafroller moths of the genera Ctenopseustis and Planotortrix. BMC Genomics 19: 94.

ANDERSSON, M.N., LÖFSTEDT, C., NEWCOMB, R.D. (2015) Insect olfaction and the evolution of receptor tuning Frontiers Ecology and Evolution 3: 53.

CORCORAN, J., JORDAN, M.D., CARRAHER, C., NEWCOMB R.D. (2014) A method to study insect olfactory receptor function using HEK293 cells. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 54: 22-32.

MCRAE, J.F., JAEGER, A.R., BAVA, C.M., BERESFORD, M.K., HUNTER, D., JIA, Y., CHHEANG, S.L., JIN, D., PENG, M., GAMBLE, J.C., ATKINSON, K.R., AXTEN, L.G., PAISLEY, A.G., WILLIAMS, L., TOOMAN, L., PINEAU, B., ROUSE, S.A., NEWCOMB, R.D. (2013) Identification of regions associated with variation in sensitivity to food-related odors in the human genome. Current Biology 23: 1596-1600.

JAEGER, A.R., MCRAE, J.F., BAVA, C.M., BERESFORD, M.K., HUNTER, D., JIA, Y., CHHEANG, S.L., JIN, D., PENG, M., GAMBLE, J.C., ATKINSON, K.R., AXTEN, L.G., PAISLEY, A.G., TOOMAN, L., PINEAU, B., ROUSE, S.A., NEWCOMB, R.D. (2013) A Mendelian trait for olfactory sensitivity affects odor experience and food selection. Current Biology 23: 1601-1605.

ALBRE, J., LIÉNARD, M., SIREY, T.M., SCHMIDT, S., TOOMAN, L., CARRAHER, C., GREENWOOD, D.R., LÖFSTEDT, C., NEWCOMB, R.D. (2012) Sex pheromone evolution in leafroller moths by differential regulation of a desaturase gene. PLoS Genetics 8: e1002489.

HAMIAUX, C., DRUMMOND, R.S.M., JANSSEN, B.J., LEDGER, S.E., COONEY, J.M., NEWCOMB R.D., SNOWDEN, K.C. (2012) DAD2, an /β hydrolase likely to be involved in the perception of the plant branching hormone, strigolactone. Current Biology 22: 2032-2036. 

ROSE, C.J., CHAPMAN, J., MARSHALL, S.D.G., LEE, S.F., BATTERHAM, P., ROSS, H.A., NEWCOMB, R.D. (2011) Selective sweeps at the organophosphorus insecticide resistance locus, Rop-1, have reduced levels of variation across the -esterase gene cluster in the Australian sheep blowfly, Lucilia cuprina. Molecular Biology and Evolution 28: 1835-1846.

SMART, R., KIELY, A., BEALE, M., VARGAS, E., CARRAHER, C., KRALICEK, A.V., CHRISTIE, D.L., NEWCOMB, R.D. AND WARR, C.G. (2008) Drosophila odorant receptors are novel seven transmembrane domain proteins that can signal independently of heterotrimeric G proteins. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 38: 770-780.

NEWCOMB, R.D., CROWHURST, R.N., GLEAVE, A.P., RIKKERINK, E.H.A., ALLAN, A.C., BEUNING, L.L., BOWEN,  J.H., GERA, E., JAMIESON, K.R., JANSSEN, B.J., LAING, W.A., MCARTNEY, S., NAIN, B., ROSS, G.S., SNOWDEN, K.C., SOULEYRE, E.J.F., WALTON, E.F., AND YAUK, Y.-K.  (2006) Analyses of expressed sequence tags from apple (Malus x domestica). Plant Physiology 141: 147-166.

HARTLEY, C.J., NEWCOMB, R.D., RUSSELL, R.J., YONG, C.G., STEVENS, J.R., YEATES, D.K., LA SALLE, J., OAKESHOTT, J.G. (2006) Amplification of DNA from preserved specimens shows blowflies were pre-adapted for the rapid evolution of insecticide resistance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 103: 8757-8762.

NEWCOMB, R.D., CAMPBELL, P.M., OLLIS, D.L., CHEAH, E., RUSSELL, R.J., AND OAKESHOTT, J.G. (1997) A single amino acid substitution converts a carboxylesterase to an organophosphorus hydrolase and confers insecticide resistance on a blowfly.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.) 94: 7464-7468