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Motor network connectivity – wiring motifs and function

Supervisor: Dr Matthias Landgraf

Project summary:

How brains generate complex locomotor patterns remains incompletely understood. Working with the fruitfly as a model system we are part of a large scale connectomics undertaking, centred around dense reconstructions of neuronal networks from electron microscopy volumes of Drosophila brains, both larva and adult. We are keen to discover how central pattern generating network between larval and adult stages compare, whether there are common wiring or computational strategies to generate rhythmic, yet quite distinct patterns of movement.  How are legs in the adult co-ordinated, and how does visual and olfactory stimuli generate directed movements?

These and many more fundamental questions are now waiting to be resolved.

What the student will be doing:

This project can be very versatile. The starting point will be computer aided 3D reconstructions of neurons from an existing EM volume to gain new insights into the motor circuitry. Genetics, using new genetic expression lines, optogenetic manipulations, functional imaging and electrophysiological recording are all techniques appropriate for further exploration.

References:

  1. Zwart, M. F. et al. Selective Inhibition Mediates the Sequential Recruitment of Motor Pools. Neuron (2016). doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2016.06.031
  2. Schneider-Mizell, C. M. et al. Quantitative neuroanatomy for connectomics in Drosophila. Elife 5, (2016).
  3. Chen, F., Tillberg, P. W. & Boyden, E. S. Optical imaging. Expansion microscopy. Science 347, 543–548 (2015).