Justin Blau19 November 2016

How Fruit Flies Can Enliighten Our Understanding of the Body Clock Cycle


Larvae - Population Assays

Odor attraction (left, odor-only assay) and light avoidance (right, light-only) behavior of Drosophila larvae.

15 larvae per plate are filmed (1 frame/second) using infra-red illumination for 5min. The larvae on the left are attracted to a point source of isoamyl acetate located on the upper part of the plate. In contrast, larvae on the right are repelled by light illuminating the plate in a gradient with higher intensity on the upper part of the plate.

Single Larva Tracking

Double stimulus competition assay between odor attraction behavior and light avoidance behavior. Drosophila larvae are exposed simultaneously to an odor source (attractive) and a light gradient (repulsive) and have to decide whether to avoid light or crawl towards the odor source. 2 larvae per plate are filmed at 1 frame/second for 5min and their individual tracks are obtained using custom written image analysis software. The red larva displays predominantly odor attraction behavior whereas the larva in green displays predominantly light avoidance behavior.

Preferred Behaviors

Single Drosophila larva tracking data (total 150 larvae filmed) were classified into larval preferred behaviors, using statistical analyses of larval spatial position over time. Larvae preferring to avoid light are shown with blue dots on the left, larvae preferring to odor attraction are shown in red on the right. Larval tracks are shown in black.

The Cave

Time lapse spanning ~10min, played at ~46x speed, showing preparation of Drosophila brain explants for two-photon calcium imaging by Matthieu Cavey, postdoctoral researcher in the Blau lab at NYU. The two-photon system is on the left of the room in a cage (to minimize background light detection), the dissection microscope on the right.

About Author

Justin Blau joined NYU in 2000. In his research, he studies how behavior is hard-wired into the nervous system, focusing on the internal biological clock that drives 24hr (“circadian”) rhythms such as sleep-wake cycles. He uses the Drosophila fruitfly model system to understand how the gene and neuronal networks underlying these clocks make them so robust. He was also a recent winner of the NYU Golden Dozen teaching award.

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