Analysis and Digital Reconstruction of Drosophila Brain Development

Digital 3D models play an increasingly important role in neuroscience. Representing three-dimensional scaffolds in which functional and gene expression data are entered and displayed graphically, the digital models become analytical tools that allow one to address neural connectivity and function, as well as gene function and gene interactions.

We are generating standardized digital atlas models of the developing Drosophila brain, a system used by many to investigate the genetic mechanism controlling the formation and function of neuronal circuits. The fly brain is formed by an invariant set of neuroblast lineages which represent structural units in terms of cell body location, axonal projection, and connectivity. Axonal and dendritic arborizations, together with glial cells, establish morphologically distinct neuropile compartments that are visible from the late embryo towards the adult. Compartments along with lineages and their tracts form a stereotyped pattern that are captured in digital models. The goal of this modeling project is to provide a tool shared with the community, allowing one to exploit the Drosphila brain more efficiently for developmental-genetic and functional questions.

Group Members: Jennifer Lovick, Darren Wong