In a previous post we talked about fruit flies and their amazing sense of smell. This includes the ability to navigate to a food source, as well as search out a preferred mate. However, there are other areas in which their olfactory systems come into play. This includes courting behavior (did you know the male does all the work?) and obesity. Yes - obesity can be studied in fruit flies.Image courtesy of Hans Smid, www.bugsinthepicture.com
Those tiny flies that take over your garbage cans during the summer? They are called fruit flies (or, Drosophila, their scientific name) for a reason! They have a fantastic sense of smell, but they also have a lot more in common with us that you might think. With 75% genetic commonality with humans, particularly the genes that cause human disease, these tiny creatures are a popular animal model for researchers.
Image courtesy of Hans Smid, www.bugsinthepicture.com.
Serotonin (5-HT) is a busy neurotransmitter, influencing such varied neuronal processes as memory, mood, emotion, appetite, and even sexuality. A prime role for this neurotransmitter is social behavior, across a variety of species; humans, rodents, primates, and even flies all rely upon serotonin to display normal social behaviors. These social effects are partly mediated through the serotonin receptor 5-HT2CR. This role has been confirmed by pharmacologic treatment, but until recently this work had focused primarily on adult rodents. In this current article, Séjourné and colleagues from the Scripps Research Institute (Florida, USA) for the first time investigated the role of 5-HT2CR in the development of social behavior.
We have learned that zebrafish have much more in common with humans than meets the eye, which is why they have become a “go-to” model in neuroscience research. But one obvious difference remains: we walk and they swim, which means movement in 3 dimensions. So while video tracking from one camera angle (e.g. above) can give us a lot of information about the movement of humans (or rodents), all the information from the third dimension (depth) is entirely missed from single camera tracking.