Barry Dickson of HHMI—Janelia Research Campus will present a lecture entitled: The Neurobiology of Drosophila Reproductive Behaviors.
Abstract: Reproduction in most animal species involves complex courtship, copulation, and post-mating behaviors. These behaviors are robust, innate, and sexually dimorphic, making them attractive model systems for understanding how neural circuits operate more generally. In Drosophila, such sex-specific behaviors are shaped by the sex-determination genes fruitless (fru) and doublesex (dsx), which are expressed in ~2000 individual neurons. I will present evidence that these neurons are organized into anatomically distinct but functionally analogous circuits in the two sexes. In both sexes, sex-specific central brain neurons encode a persistent state of mating arousal. This internal state determines how specific sensory cues are processed and transformed into appropriate motor outputs. These sensorimotor transformations, and the circuits that mediate them, are also sex-specific, being shaped during development by the fru and dsx genes..