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Biology Colloquium | Carolina Rezaval

November 9 @ 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

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Event Details

Speaker: Carolina Rezaval
School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham

Title: How the brain prioritises behaviours in the fruit fly



Meeting ID: 938 5371 2099
Passcode: m56qvgvT


Abstract: Animals must express the appropriate behavior that meets their most pressing physiological needs and their environmental context. However, it is currently unclear how alternative behavioral options are evaluated and appropriate actions are prioritized. Here, we describe how fruit flies choose between feeding and courtship; two behaviors necessary for survival and reproduction. We show that sex- and food-deprived male flies prioritize feeding over courtship initiation, and manipulation of food quality or the animal’s internal state fine-tunes this decision. We identify the tyramine signaling pathway as an essential mediator of this decision. Tyramine biosynthesis is regulated by the fly’s nutritional state and acts as a satiety signal, favoring courtship over feeding. Tyramine inhibits a subset of feeding-promoting tyramine receptor (TyrR)-expressing neurons and activates P1 neurons, a known command center for courtship. Conversely, the perception of a nutritious food source activates TyrR neurons and inhibits P1 neurons. Therefore, TyrR and P1 neurons are oppositely modulated by starvation, via tyramine levels, and food availability. We propose that antagonistic co-regulation of neurons controlling alternative actions is key to prioritizing competing drives in a context- dependent manner.

Speaker’s Bio: Carolina was born in Patagonia, Argentina. She received a Masters and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Buenos Aires. During her Ph.D. in the lab of Fernanda Ceriani, she identified genes underlying neurodegeneration, ultimately affecting circadian behaviour in Drosophila. She did her post-doctoral research at the University of Oxford, where she studied the genetic and neural basis of innate sexual behaviours in Drosophila. As a BBSRC researcher co-investigator with Prof. Stephen Goodwin at Oxford, she studied how the brain differs between the sexes, and how these differences explain distinct behaviours shown by male and female flies. Carolina won a Birmingham Fellowship to start her independent research group in April 2018, and become a Lecturer in Neurobiology 2021.


November 9
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm


Department of Biology