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Dr. Nils Otto

Dr. Nils Otto

Postdoctoral Research Associate with Scott Waddell at the University of Oxford - visitor with the University of Cambridge Connectomics group

Austin Building Room 416
Office Phone: 01223 (3)34455


In my PhD and Msc., at the University of Münster (2011- 2016) with Prof. Dr. Christian Klämbt, I was part of a team of Biologists, Computer Scientists and Engineers which developed FIM - a high quality, versatile imaging and annotation setup for behavior of crawling insects. Together with molecular genetic tools as well as behavioral experiments and functional imaging approaches, I used FIM to identify a novel gene to be a mitochondrial sulfite oxidase and investigatedd its relevance for neurotransmitter recycling. This gene has not only an impact on computation of locomotion behavior of Drosophila lLarvae through regulating glutamate metabolism, but is also conserved in humans and linked to a genetic disease called Sulfite Oxidase deficiency. (see below)
In my first short postdoctoral research project (2017) I worked with Prof. Dr. Ralf Staniewsky to identify genes that regulate temperature compensation in circadian rythmicity of flies. Moreover, we analysed circadian rythmicity in larvae with a long term tracking approach using FIM4d.

Research Interests

I am fascinated with neural networks that carry out memory related computations in the brain. Related processes like learning, retrieval, and even forgetting of information are pivotal across species and related disorders devastate lives of the affected and their families. Still the biology of relevant networks is vaguely understood.

Thus, I am excited to be able to study underlying circuits in Scott Waddell’s lab at the University of Oxford. Here we use Drosophila as a model to unravel the biology of neural networks within and outwith the mushroom body, which is a principle site for memory computation in flies. My project, consists of a bipartite approach:

In a first step, I want to analyse the connectivity and network anatomy of relevant neuronal circuits on the electron microscopic level. Therefore, I am with the Connectomics group at Cambridge University at present. Here, as part of a large Wellcome Trust funded project with members in the UK and the US, we work on an EM-level 3D Volume reconstruction of a complete Drosophila brain to identify neurons and their connections in relevant circuits. These findings can be taken to a second step, in which I want to investigate how the physical layout of connections and circuits is linked to memory computation and functional implications in related behaviors of living animals.

Key Publications

The conserved Sulfite Oxidase Shopper acts in ensheathing glia to control neuronal activity by regulating glutamate homeostasis

Otto N, Marelja Z, Schoofs A, Kranenburg H, Berh D, Bethke M, Thomas S, Rode S, Bittern J, Yildirim K, Jiang X, Pankratz M, Leimkühler S, Klämbt C

Neuron - under revision

The Ol1mpiad: concordance of behavioural faculties of stage 1 and stage 3 Drosophila larvae.

Almeida-Carvalho MJ, Berh D, Braun A, Chen YC, Eichler K, Eschbach C, Fritsch PMJ, Gerber B, Hoyer N, Jiang X, Kleber J, Klämbt C, König C, Louis M, Michels B, Miroschnikow A, Mirth C, Miura D, Niewalda T, Otto N, Paisios E, Pankratz MJ, Petersen M, Ramsperger N, Randel N, Risse B, Saumweber T, Schlegel P, Schleyer M, Soba P, Sprecher SG, Tanimura T, Thum AS, Toshima N, Truman JW, Yarali A, Zlatic M.

J Exp Biol. 2017 Jul 1;220(Pt 13):2452-2475.

FIMTrack: An open source tracking and locomotion analysis software for small animals.

Risse B, Berh D, Otto N, Klämbt C, Jiang X.

PLoS Comput Biol. 2017 May 11;13(5):e1005530.

FIM2C: A Multicolor, Multipurpose Imaging System to Manipulate and Analyze Animal Behavior.

Risse B, Otto N, Berh D, Xiaoyi Jiang, Kiel M, Klambt C.

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2017 Mar;64(3):610-620.

A FIM-based Long-Term in-vial Monitoring System for Drosophila Larvae.

Berh D, Risse B, Michels T, Otto N, Jiang X, Klambt C.

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2016 Nov 11.

Interactions among Drosophila larvae before and during collision.

Otto N, Risse B, Berh D, Bittern J, Jiang X, Klämbt C.

Nat Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 11;6:31564.

Quantifying subtle locomotion phenotypes of Drosophila larvae using internal structures based on FIM images.

Risse B, Berh D, Otto N, Jiang X, Klämbt C.

Comput Biol Med. 2015 Aug;63:269-76.

FIM imaging and FIMtrack: two new tools allowing high-throughput and cost effective locomotion analysis.

Risse B, Otto N, Berh D, Jiang X, Klämbt C.

J Vis Exp. 2014 Dec 24;(94).

FIM, a novel FTIR-based imaging method for high throughput locomotion analysis.

Risse B, Thomas S, Otto N, Löpmeier T, Valkov D, Jiang X, Klämbt C.

PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53963.