Symposium, January 2018

Neuronal circuits in fruit flies


We study the ways in which neurons communicate with each other to regulate behaviours using the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster . Among the wide variety of robust rhythmic behaviors that the fruitfly exhibits, most of our studies focus on understanding the neuronal circuitry that regulates daily rhythms of activity, sleep, adult-emergence and egg-laying. We take advantage of the vast variety of genetic tools available to answer many of our questions. In addition, we use the comparative approach to derive general models regarding how neuronal circuits function by examining other Drosophilid species such as D. anannasae, D. malerkotliana, D. nasuta and Zaprionus indianus.

Using a combination of behavioural, genetic, neuroanatomical and molecular methods, we are also attempting to understand the possible role of temperature sensitive ion channels such as the transient receptor potential channel - dTRPA1 in communicating with circadian clocks in Drosophila. We also use the circadian neuronal circuit in fruitflies to model the progression of Huntington’s disease - a degenerative disorder of the nervous system with the aim to understand links between behavioural defects and the underlying neuroanatomical and molecular dysfunction. We are also interested in understanding the reguation of sleep by circadian clocks and homeostatic mechanisms, and in deciphering the extent of interaction between the two in bringing about sleep.

With more and more evidence for a link between metabolic disorders and circadian rhythms, we have begun a collaborative project with faculty at IISER Mohali that aims to establish causal links between behaviours and metabolic rhythms. Another collaborative project with the Chronobiology Laboratory at EOBU, JNCASR aims to tease apart the roles of different environmental factors that may influence circadian rhythms of fruitflies under natural conditions.