René Feyereisen, ESA Fellow (2013)

Dr. René Feyereisen, Director of Research at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) in France, was elected Fellow in 2013. He is recognized internationally for his research on insect biochemistry, physiology, and toxicology, and especially the functions of cytochrome P450 enzymes.

Feyereisen, a Luxembourg citizen born in The Hague in 1953, studied biochemistry, physiology, and ecology at Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg, France, where he earned his M.S. in 1974 and Ph.D. in 1979. After postdoctoral fellowships at the Agricultural Research Council, University of Sussex, and in the Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, he served on the faculty of the Department of Entomology at Oregon State University from 1981–1991. He moved to the University of Arizona where he was professor in the Department of Entomology from 1991–2000, and then joined INRA at the Sophia Antipolis Research Center.

Feyereisen’s early studies described the roles of P450 enzymes in the biosynthesis of ecdysteroids and juvenile hormones (JH).His laboratory has also made major contributions to the biochemistry of the corpora allata and to the discovery of allatostatins as “brain-gut” neuropeptides that are powerful inhibitors of JH synthesis. More recently, in collaboration with Dr. Gary Blomquist's group, Feyereisen showed that highly conserved P450 enzymes, the CYP4Gs specific to insects, are responsible for the last step in cuticular hydrocarbon biosynthesis. The evolution of the CYP4G enzymes is a key innovation that contributed to the colonization of land by insects. Beyond the essential physiological functions of P450 enzymes, Feyereisen's laboratory also showed the role of P450 enzymes in insecticide detoxification and resistance and in host plant adaptation. From the first sequence of an insect P450 gene and functional expression of recombinant protein, to the annotation of the hundreds of CYP genes in the genomes of insects and mites, his laboratory has continued to make important contributions to our understanding of the diversity of P450 genes. Feyereisen currently focuses on the evolution of this very large family of versatile enzymes in arthropods.

In addition to his research, Feyereisen has served on the editorial committee of the Annual Review of Entomology and on the editorial boards of Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiologyand Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology. Since 2002, he has been co-editor of Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He has published over 170 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters and has written influential reviews on JH biosynthesis, insecticide resistance, and on P450 enzymes. He has served as mentor to numerous undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows from around the world. Past honors include a Faculty Excellence Award from the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the 2011 Distinguished Scientist Award from the International Branch of ESA, and the 2013 International Award for Research in Agrochemicals from the American Chemical Society’s Agrochemicals Division.

(Updated December, 2013)