BMI Seminar // Vanessa Ruta - Themes and Variations: Circuit mechanisms of behavioral evolution


Event details

Date 29.09.2021 16:0017:00  
Speaker Vanessa Ruta, The Rockefeller University, New York, USA
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
Event Language English
Exceptionally at 4:00 PM

Animals exhibit extraordinary variation in their behavior, yet little is known about the neural mechanisms that generate this diversity. My lab has been taking advantage of the rapid diversification of male courtship behaviors in Drosophila to glean insight into how evolution shapes the nervous system to generate species-specific behaviors. By translating neurogenetic tools from D. melanogaster to closely related Drosophila species, we have begun to directly compare the homologous neural circuits and pinpoint sites of adaptive change. Across species, P1 neurons serve as a conserved node in regulating male courtship: these neurons are selectively activated by the sensory cues indicative of an appropriate mate and their activation triggers enduring courtship displays. We have been examining how different sensory pathways converge onto P1 neurons to regulate a male’s state of arousal, honing his pursuit of a prospective partner. Moreover, by performing cross-species comparison of these circuits, we have begun to gain insight into how reweighting of sensory inputs to P1 neurons underlies species-specific mate recognition. Our results suggest how variation at flexible nodes within the nervous system can serve as a substrate for behavioral evolution, shedding light on the types of changes that are possible and preferable within brain circuits. 


Practical information

  • Informed public
  • Free


  • SV BMI Organizer : A.M. Jaksic