Forum 01/25/2007

“Fly brain architecture”

Albert Cardona, Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Molecular Cell Developmental Biology, University of California Los Angeles

How does the brain work? In order to dilucidate function, structure must be inspected first. Our lab has concentrated efforts in the study of the Drosophila brain. The fruit fly offers, as a model system, ready-made tools for the specific labeling, hyperactivation and disruption of tissues and cells. With the help of these tools, our lab has generated high-resolution maps of the different elements of the larval fly brain throughout embryonic and larval stages of development.  To achieve the required resolution for the elucidation of microcircuitry, we have started studies at the electron microscopic level. The first instar larval brain provides us with a small, yet functional (and developing) brain. We have imaged about 300 ultrathin sections of the neuropile of the first instar at 11.000x, and managed the immense amount of images with TrakEM2, a custom-made software package.

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