CASCB talk: From structure to function: what we can learn from the connectome of the Drosophila larva

Monday, 19. December 2022
11:45 - 12:45

ZT 702 and online


Prof Andreas Thum, University of Leipzig

This event is part of an event series „CASCB Winter Seminar Series 2022/23“.

From structure to function: what we can learn from the connectome of the Drosophila larva


The Drosophila larva is a relatively simple, 10 000-neuron study case for learning and memory with enticing analytical power, combining genetic tractability, the availability of robust behavioral assays, the opportunity for single-cell transgenic manipulation, and an emerging synaptic connectome of its complete central nervous system. Indeed, although the insect mushroom body is a much-studied memory network, the connectome revealed that more than half of the classes of connection within the mushroom body had escaped attention.

The connectome also revealed circuitry that integrates, both within and across brain hemispheres, higher-order sensory input, intersecting valence signals, and output neurons that instruct behavior.

Further, it was found that activating individual dopaminergic mushroom body input neurons can have a rewarding or a punishing effect on olfactory stimuli associated with it, depending on the relative timing of this activation, and that larvae form molecularly dissociable short-term, long-term, and amnesia-resistant memories. Together, the larval mushroom body is a suitable study case to achieve a nuanced account of molecular function in a behaviorally meaningful memory network.

Prof Andreas Thum did his PhD at the University of Würzburg in the Department of Genetics and Neurobiology of Martin Heisenberg, where he studied the basis of learning and memory in adult Drosophila. In 2006 he moved to Fribourg (Switzerland) to the lab of Reini Stocker to analyze learning and memory in the fly larva. In 2011 he was awarded with an Emmy-Noether group, which allowed him to establish his own lab at the University of Konstanz. Since 2017, he has been a professor at the University of Leipzig, head of the Department of Genetics and, more recently, director of the Institute of Biology. His research group utilizes the Drosophila larva to identify the neuronal, molecular and behavioral basis of learning and memory.

Join the Talk on Zoom