Sara Ratican Rose Hills
Calcium Imaging in Drosophila Melanogaster
One of the fundamental aims of current neuroscience research is to understand how external sensory inputs and internal states are represented in the brain, and how neuronal circuits process these inputs to ultimately alter behavior. In order to decipher the underlying mechanisms behind this process, my research looks at how different tastes are distinguished by the brain in Drosophila Melanogaster. Calcium ions serve as a primary intracellular messenger in neurons. During electrical activity, intracellular calcium concentrations rise 10 to 100 times higher in active neurons. My project will use transgenic flies expressing calcium-sensitive fluorescent proteins in taste neurons. These fluorescent proteins allow for calcium imaging experiments, which will enable me to monitor in vivo taste responses in gustatory neuronal populations with single-cell resolution. Ultimately, this will allow for a better understanding the anatomy of neural connectivity as well as provide information on how gustatory neuronal populations participate in relevant activity patterns.