Recovery of Locomotion After Injury in Drosophila Depends on Proprioception


September 9, 2015 - 1:00pm
NW 243
About the Speaker
Alex Isakov (Mahadevan Lab)

Locomotion is necessary for survival in most animal species. However, injuries to the appendages mediating locomotion are common. We assess the recovery of walking in Drosophila melanogaster following leg amputation. Whereas flies pre-amputation explore open arenas in a symmetric fashion, foreleg amputation induces a strong turning bias away from the side of the amputation. However, we find that unbiased walking behavior returns over time in wild type flies, while recovery is significantly impaired in proprioceptive mutants. To identify the biomechanical basis of this locomotor impairment and recovery, we then examine individual leg motion (gait) at a fine scale. A minimal mathematical model that links neurodynamics to body mechanics during walking shows that redistributing leg forces between the right and left side enables the observed recovery. Altogether, our study suggests that proprioceptive input from the intact limbs plays a critical role in the behavioral plasticity associated with locomotor recovery after injury.