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Angela O’Sullivan: Flying and singing: wing motor control in the fruit fly

PhD defence Friday March 29 2019, Angela O’Sullivan.

2019.03.29 | Lisbeth Heilesen

Angela O’Sullivan

During her studies Angela O’Sullivan researched how fruit flies use their wings to produce different motor outputs. Male fruit flies use their wings to fly and to sing a courtship song to female flies. Males generate the courtship song by extending one wing and vibrating it in a controlled manner, producing an acoustic signal. Females listen to this song, and accept the males as mating partners if it is of good quality. By performing functional imaging of the fly’s wing muscles, Angela identified which muscles are active during song production. She also used genetic tools to visualise the motor neurons innervating the wing muscles, and by genetically manipulating individual motor neurons she uncovered the contribution each makes to the patterning of the courtship song. She also explored whether neuromodulation plays a role in multifunctional wing motor control.

The new research findings contribute to the fundamental understanding of neuronal circuits, uncovering details on how a sparse motor system can produce multiple outputs.

The PhD degree was completed at the Danish Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience (DANDRITE), Science and Technology, Aarhus University.

This résumé was prepared by the PhD student.

Time: Friday 29 March 2019 at 13.00
Place: Building 1531, room 119 Aud-D2, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University
Title of PhD thesis: Multifunctional Wing Motor Control of Song and Flight
Contact information: Angela O’Sullivan, angelaos@dandrite.au.dk
Members of the assessment committee:
Professor Marion Silies, Faculty for Biology, Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany
Associate Professor Jean-Christophe Billeter, Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Associate Professor Anni Hangaard Andersen, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University (chair)
Main supervisor:
Associate Professor Anne von Philipsborn, DANDRITE, Aarhus University
Language: The PhD dissertation will be defended in English

The defence is public.
The PhD thesis is available for reading at the Graduate School of Science and Technology/GSST, Ny Munkegade 120, building 1521, 8000 Aarhus C.

PhD defense