We will take a genetic approach to dissect the neuronal circuitry that underlies behavioral aversion of UV, using the Drosophila egg-laying site as our model system.
We aim to identify and characterize both the critical sensory neurons and their post-synaptic targets that govern UV aversion. In addition, we will also assess the roles of neuro-modulatory neurons in adjusting the strength of UV aversion via modulating the communication between the specific sensory and central neurons we identified.
The ability to detect, assess, and respond properly to aversive stimuli is essential for animal survival and reproductive success;failure to sense significant threats causes bodily harm while unchecked sensitivity to mild aversive stimuli may incur opportunity loss as well as stress-induced mental illness. Given that the channel, neuropeptide, and neuro-modulatory systems we are investigating in our proposal all appear to be conserved across species, our findings will likely shed light on how stress is processed in humans.
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