Drosophila

The use of Drosophila for neurobiological studies began in the 1960’s with Seymour Benzer’s systematic efforts to exploit the genetic tractability of Drosophila to isolate a variety of behavioral mutants affecting phototaxis, courtship, circadian rhythm, and learning.  The realization that larval body wall muscles were large and readily accessible for electrophysiological assays stimulated studies at the cellular level and provided a foundation for isolating and characterizing mutants that perturbed neuronal signaling.  The appeal of this genetic strategy was that it offered the possibility of identifying genes encoding key proteins such as ion channels and thereby provided a molecular handle for these proteins that had been refractory to  biochemical isolation.  In addition, Drosophilaoffered great promise for dissecting the molecular circuitry underling a host of complex neurological behaviors, from learning to courtship.  To learn more about work being done using the Drosophila model at MIT, visit the Littleton and Quinn lab pages.