Theses Doctoral

The role of circadian-regulated genes in Drosophila behavior

Pantalia, Meghan

A central question in neuroscience is to identify the roles of genes in behavior. A deeper understanding of genetic influences on behavior would provide insight into the relative impact of innate vs. environmental influences on behavior, as well as improve treatments for neurological diseases. To elucidate the role of genes in behavior, we must not only identify specific genes involved, but also determine the cell types in which they act and the mechanisms by which they exert their influence. In Chapter 2 of this thesis, I found that circadian genes comprising the circadian clock were not necessary in “master clock neurons”, or Pdf+ neurons, for circadian locomotor rhythms. I also identified a small subset of neurons in which disruption of these circadian genes completely abolishes Drosophila circadian behavior. In Chapter 3, I describe the role of a glial gene, ebony, in the regulation of Drosophila courtship and sleep behavior. In addition to identifying the cell types in which ebony acts to regulate these behaviors, I also provide insight into the underlying mechanism of neurotransmitter modulation. The results in this chapter highlight the consideration of non-neuronal cells in the brain when examining the roles of genes in behavior. Together, the results in Chapter 2 and 3 further our understanding of how genes in small populations of cells influence a myriad of conserved Drosophila behaviors.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Genetics and Development
Thesis Advisors
Shirasu-Hiza, Mimi M.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 14, 2020