In the past physiological research and behavior research have been classified into different scientific areas. The latter assigned to psychology, whereas physiological questions were answered for instance in metabolic, cell biological, or anatomical studies. In the recent decades complex scientific questions necessitated more interdisciplinary research. Studies in the model system Drosophila melanogaster reduced the differences between neurophysiology, behavior, and metabolism. Especially the analysis of nutrient dependent signaling pathways on the one hand and the investigation of mechanisms regulating food intake on the other hand revealed intersecting pathways. Exactly these links are in our interest.
We use genetic, molecular biological, and electrophysiological methods to identify and study neuronal networks, which control certain behaviors, particularly food choice and food intake. Furthermore we are interested in signaling mechanisms which regulate metabolic pathways, and which at the same time are dependent upon external stimuli like nutrients.
To gain insight into the current scientific work in the Pankratz group undergraduates can use a combination of genetic, molecular biological, imaging, and electrophysiological methods to analyze neuronal networks in the context of a practical course.
- Immune histochemical staining of proteins with light, fluorescence, and confocal microscopy in brains of transgenic Drosophila lines.
- In situ hybridizations with RNA probes in Drosophila brains.
- Mis-expression analysis using the Gal4-UAS-system in transgenic Drosophila lines.
- Analysis of gene or protein expression by quantitative real time PCR and Western Blots.
- Calcium imaging in CNS and muscles of Drosophila.
- Manipulation and monitoring of neuronal activity by optogenetics.
- Extracellular nerve recordings from semi-intact Drosophila larva preparations.
- Intracellular muscle recordings from semi-intact Drosophila larva preparations.
- Video-based behavioral experiments to analyze food intake, locomotion, or preference of Drosophila larvae.