Deutsch
    Neurobiology and Genetics
    [Translate to Englisch:] Bild Drosophila

    The research focus of the WG Förster lies in the exploration of the circadian clock in Drosophila and selected other species

    • Neuronal network of the circadian clock
    • Synchronisation of the clock by light
    • Role of Rhodopsins in Photo-, Mechano- und Thermosensoric
    • Life-imaging in clock neurons
    • Circadian clock and measurement of day length
    • Photoperiodic adaptations
    • meaning of the circadian clock for survival
    Charlotte Förster
    [Translate to Englisch:] Bild Professor Förster

    Research interest

    My main research interests are to decipher the circadian clock on the molecular and neuronal network level, to understand how it is synchronized to the environmental cycles on earth (mainly to the Zeitgebers light and temperature) and how it controls behaviour. Most studies are performed on the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. In further studies we examine the neuronal network of the circadian clock of other insects, mainly social insects that show a photoperiodic diapause.

    Special interests are:

    1. The role of neuropeptides in the clock network of Drosophila melanogaster
    2. The role of dopamine, serotonine and glia cells in the regulation of sleep in Drosophila melanogaster
    3. The role of rhodopsins and cryptochrome for synchronizing the clock to natural-like light-dark cycles
    4. Organisation and function of the clock in divers bee and ant species
    5. Organisation and function of the clock in divers photoperiodic insects like aphids, fire bugs and different fly species
    6. The importance of the circadian clock network for measurment of day length and the adaptation to seasonal changes

    Awards & Fundings

    Publications

    Curriculum Vitae

    Press releases

    Katharina Beer
    [Translate to Englisch:] Bild Katharina Beer

    Research interest

    To adapt to the seasonal changes in the environment of our planet, animals have evolved an internal circadian clock. For example the seasonal changing floral resources are a great challenge for the honeybee. The circadian clock is involved in processes like the honey bees’ time compensated sun compass orientation and the age related assignments of tasks in the bee hive. While foraging bees display strong circadian activity rhythms in their behavior, nursing bees show no such circadian rhythmicity.The molecular basis for this rhythm is a negative feedback loop consisting essentially of the four clock genes period, cryptochrome-m, cycle and clock. But other factors like the neuropeptide PDF (Pigment Dispersing Factor) seem to be also involved in the molecular clock of the honey bee.The main aim of my phd-project is to further characterize the circadian clock of honeybees (Apis mellifera) on the anatomical and molecular level and investigate the behavioral output of the honeybee clock by locomotor activity monitoring. Of special interest is here the locomotor activity of individual bees in the social context of a bee hive. Also part of my project is the characterization of the circadian clock of other insects which are research organisms in the collaborative areas of the SFB 1047. For example the solitary living red mason bee (Osmia rufa) and the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum).

    Publications

    Enrico Bertolini
    [Translate to Englisch:] Bild Ernico Bertolini

    Research interest

    Tracking seasonal changes over the year is of particular importance for some insects to overwinter. It allows them to anticipate harsh environmental conditions which they can survive by undergoing a physiological state called diapause.

    Evidences of the presence of a photoperiodic clock that controls diapause induction are also suggesting the implication of the circadian clock. So far, the interconnection between these two timing mechanisms is not well understood in insects, also/mainly because unfortunately our favourite model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, shows a shallow photoperiodic diapause phenotype.

    My project is trying to understand the basis of photoperiodic and circadian timing in insect species that are known to posses a strong photoperiodic diapause response like the firebug Pyrrhocoris apterus and the fly Chymomyza costata at the neurobiological and molecular level.

    I am also working in the characterization of the circadian clock in two pest species for agricultural crops that are the olive fly Bactrocera oleae and the medfly Ceratitis capitata.

    Melanie Bunz
    [Translate to Englisch:] Bild Melanie Bunz

    Research interest

    The main task of the circadian clock is to time the activity such as food search, feeding, mating and egg laying at the right time of the day. Due to permanent changes of the environment such as day length the circadian clock has to be synchronized to the environment via appropriate Zeitgebers such as light and temperature. By timing the activity to the right time of the day the fly benefits from selective advantages. Neverthless, recent studies show that certain timing is possible without a functional circadian clock. Therefore my PhD-Thesis focuses on the activity pattern of wildtype flies and clock mutants to test whether the activity differs under natural-like laboratory and natural outdoor conditions. I will investigate the circadian clock and how the clock is influenced by light, temperature, humidity and nutrition. Furthermore I will analyse whether flies possessing a circadian clock benefit from advantages such as reproductive fitness and prolonged life-span, compared to flies without a functional circadian clock under natural outdoor conditions.

    Publications

    Janina Kay
    [Translate to Englisch:] Bild Janina Kay

    Research interest

    As social insects, ants belonging to the genus Camponotus are confronted with a number of challenges that need the right timing. These challenges range from collection of nectar to brood care to mating. To time such behavior, living beings employ an edogenous clock. As the rhythmic behaviors and underlying endogenous clock of Camponotus have not been studied very well yet, I am striving to characterize the anatomical and molecular properties that constitute the base of the clock. I also investigate patterns of behavior related to the clock, with a focus on locomotor behavior. The objectives of my work are to identify sequences of clock genes, analyze those clock genes and their expression levels, perform anatomical studies of the neuronal network underlying the cock, study the circadian clock behavioral locomotor output with respect to different zeitgebers and eventually to compare different Camponotus species and also different colonies of single species to one another.

    Christiane Luibl
    [Translate to Englisch:] Bild Christiane Luibl

    Research interest

    The circadian clock network of D. melanogaster consists of about 150 clock neurons which are located in the lateral and dorsal brain. Communication between these neurons as well as between clock neurons and putative clock output sites is thought to be mainly achieved by neuropeptides. The most important “clock” peptide is the pigment dispersing factor (PDF), which is highly conserved among different insect groups. Disturbance of the PDF circuit leads to a severe impairment of normal rhythmic behavior in Drosophila. The focus of my PhD thesis lies in the investigation and identification of other putative “clock” neuropeptides. Possible candidates are the Neuropeptide F (NPF), short Neuropeptide F (sNPF) and the Ion Transport Peptide (ITP). After manipulating peptide circuits – which is achieved mainly genetically – I investigate the impact on the clock function both on the behavioral and on the neuronal level. Methods I employ are immunocytochemistry, behavioral assays, live imaging and molecular genetics.

    Publications

    Pamela Menegazzi
    Bild Pamela Menegazzi

    Research interest

    Many organisms, from bacteria to mammals, including humans, posses biological clocks that govern many aspects of their lives, both at the physiological and behavioral level and allow them to adapt to the rhythmically changing environment. Biological rhythms are driven by molecular oscillations that are generated in our bodies and kept in synchrony with the external world through stimuli, i.e light and temperature, the most important "Zeitgeber". Numerous aspects of the Drosophila melanogaster circadian clock are conserved in humans. An evident similarity is that mutations in the human genes Per2 and Ck1δ, orthologs of Drosophila per and Dbt respectively, cause a sleep associated pathology: the FASP, Familial Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome. Because of this and other shared features between our and flies' clock mechanisms, D. melanogaster  has been extensively used as model organisms. The circadian clock of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster relies on 7 groups of clock neurons per brain hemisphere which are bilaterally clustered in dorsal and lateral according to their positions in the brain. In these neurons, clock genes such as period (per), timeless (tim), vrille (vri) and PAR-domain protein1ε (pdp1ε) operate in interlocked feedback loops in which the clock proteins interact and thereby regulate their own transcription. So far, many studies contributed to the understanding of the particular functions of the different neurons and it is today quite clear that they are organized in very complicated network. With my work, I am investigating on how the different clusters of clock cells are influenced by the environmental stimuli and on the effect of specific combinations of light and temperature on the clock proteins oscillation within the master clock of wild-type and mutant flies.Publications

    Publications

    Dirk Rieger
    [Translate to Englisch:] Bild Dirk Rieger

    Research interest

    My main research interrest belongs to the neuronal network of Drosophilas circadian clock.  To investigate this I work with behavior studies, mutant screenings, histology and bioimaging. In my Phd thesis I could  allready work and illuminate parts of the dual oscillator system of Drosophila melanogaster. In future projects I would like to observe the individual neural oscillators of the fruitfly in vivo. This will be done over severeal circadian cycles.  Another research focus is understanding the mechanisms that lead to synchronization of the internal clock of Drosophila. Here the focus is on a simulation of natural lighting conditions and their effect on the synchronization of the circadian Clock.

    Awards & Fundings

    Cooperations

    Publications

    Pingkalai Senthilan
    [Translate to Englisch:] Bild Pingkalai Senthilan

    Research interest

    Mechano-, and photoreceptive cells are developmentally specified via transcription factors of the atonal and achaete-scute families across taxa. While the molecular basis of phototransduction is relatively well-studied, the molecular basis of mechanotransduction is poorly understood. Hearing is a specialized form of mechanotransduction. The antennal auditory organ of Drosophila, Johnston’s organ (JO), provides a valuable system to study mechanotransduction. During my Ph.D., we utilized the microarray technology to establish a catalogue of JO genes. Thereby we observed that well-known phototransduction genes such as rhodopsins, G-proteins, and TRP channels are also expressed in JO, fly’s auditory organ. Furthermore, mechanical measurements confirmed that many of these phototransduction genes (incl. Rh5, Rh6, arr2, inaD, glass, trp, trpl) actively contribute to hearing. Recent studies demonstrate that santa-maria and ninaE, phototransduction genes that were not identified by the screen, also affect hearing. In general, it seems like that phototransduction genes play an important role in hearing, but also in other sensory modalities such as thermosensation. These findings aroused my interest on the genetic parallels between different sensory modalities, especially between photo- and mechanotransduction. Currently, I am focusing on the parallels and differences between those sensory modalities - from the development to sensory processing. Therefore a variety of methods, incl. molecular biology, genetics, behavioral assays, and bioinformatics are used in my lab.

    Awards & Fundings

    Publications

    Frank Schubert
    [Translate to Englisch:] Bild Frank Schubert

    Research Interest

    I am interested in the functional anatomy of Drosophila melanogaster’s circadian clock. The fruit fly’s endogenous clock consists of ~150 neurons that are divided into subgroups and located in the CNS. Numerous histological and behavioral studies on clock mutants revealed that the neuronal subgroups play different roles in maintaining the circadian rhythm.

    Due to thermo- and optogenetic approaches combined with a luciferase reporter system, I am able to manipulate certain neuronal subgroups of the clock network and monitor the effects of these maniptulations on the level of clock gene expression ex vivo.

    Koustubh Vaze
    [Translate to Englisch:] Bild Koustubh Vaze

    Research interest

    Insects undergo ‘diapause’ a physiological state characterized by low metabolic rate and arrest of growth, reproduction to survive the hardship of winter. It is well known that diapause is induced by shortening day-length in autumn.  However, the mechanisms underlying day (or night) length measurement have remained elusive. I am trying to understand these mechanisms by using a judicious mixture of behavioural analysis, modelling, genetics and immuno-histochemistry in northern Drosophila species.

    Publications

    Contact

    Universität Würzburg
    Sanderring 2
    97070 Würzburg

    Phone: +49 931 31-0
    Fax: +49 931 31-82600

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    Hubland Süd, Geb. B1 Hubland Nord, Geb. 32 Julius-von-Sachs-Platz 2 Fabrikschleichach Hubland Süd, Geb. B2 Campus Medizin