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Neural circuit basis of sexually dimorphic and learned behaviours in Drosophila

  • Full or part time
    Dr G Jefferis
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, December 03, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

We study how sensory information is transformed into behaviour in the fly brain. We mostly use the olfactory system, because olfaction is a relatively shallow sense: just two synapses separate the sensory periphery from neurons that form olfactory memories or initiate innate olfactory behaviours.

We have a variety of interests investigating the circuit logic of innate behaviours, especially sexually dimorphic behaviours dependent on pheromones. We are also interested in how learned behaviours interact with and suppress innate behavioural responses.

On the technical side we also have major efforts in tool development to enable mapping of neural circuits including processing multi-terabyte light microscopy datasets. We are also leading a large collaborative effort using whole brain connectomics with EM data that is opening up many opportunities to map neural circuits at synaptic resolution (see

Please get in touch to discuss specific project ideas (in these area or indeed any area of our group’s work) that match your own scientific interests. Projects are likely to involve a combination of the techniques in the lab including molecular genetic manipulations, quantitative behaviour, optogenetics and electrophysiology/multiphoton imaging, connectomics and computational neuroanatomy.

Since we have developed (and will continue to develop) a variety of molecular genetic and software tools and imaging and behavioural hardware, we would strongly encourage applications from students with interest/aptitude for software or hardware development or some background in physical / quantitative sciences as well as a serious interest in brain and behaviour.

Funding Notes

Please see the LMB PhD website for further details: View Website


Dolan MJ, Belliart-Guérin G, Bates AS, Frechter S, Lampin-Saint-Amaux A, Aso Y, Roberts RJV, Schlegel P, Wong A, Hammad A, Bock D, Rubin GM, Preat T, Plaçais PY, Jefferis GSXE. Communication from Learned to Innate Olfactory Processing Centers Is Required for Memory Retrieval in Drosophila. Neuron. 2018 Nov 7;100(3):651-668.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.08.037

Zheng Z, Lauritzen JS, Perlman E, Robinson CG, Nichols M, Milkie D, Torrens O, Price J, Fisher CB, Sharifi N, Calle-Schuler SA, Kmecova L, Ali IJ, Karsh B, Trautman ET, Bogovic JA, Hanslovsky P, Jefferis GSXE, Kazhdan M, Khairy K, Saalfeld S, Fetter RD, Bock DD. (2018).
A Complete Electron Microscopy Volume of the Brain of Adult Drosophila melanogaster. Cell 174:730-743.

Costa, M., A.D., Manton, Ostrovsky, J.D., Prohaska, S., and Jefferis, G.S.X.E. (2016). NBLAST: Rapid, sensitive comparison of neuronal structure and construction of neuron family databases. Neuron, 91(2), 293-311

Kohl J., Ostrovsky A.D., Frechter S., and Jefferis G.S.X.E. (2013) A bidirectional circuit switch reroutes pheromone signals in male and female
brains. Cell 155:1610-23.

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