We are studying how the neural circuitry that is required for coordinated walking in adult flies is constructed during development, and how it functions in the adult.
Adult fruit flies walk using six legs that move in a highly coordinated and stereotyped manner. The motor neurons that command these movements are located in the central nervous system (CNS) and send axons to the legs that synapse onto specific muscles. We are characterizing the molecular signatures that give each of these motor neurons their specific identities, focusing on the lineages that they are derived from and the transcription factors they express. In addition, we are developing assays that allow us to monitor fly walking at high resolution, with the goal of carrying out genetic screens to find genes and neurons that are required for motor coordination in the adult.
Current lab members working on this project: Lalanti Venkatasubramanian, Clare Howard, Meredith Peterson, Laura Quintana Rio, Matt Eveland.