Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)



First Advisor

John R. Carlson


One aim of neuroscience is to understand on many levels how behaviors are shaped by sensory cues. We sought to address this question by examining a simple behavior, respiratory activity, in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly. We hypothesized the fly’s respiratory behavior would be analogous to that of mammals with respect to sensitivity to internal oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Thus, we aimed to quantify respiratory behavior in the fly and then to identify oxygen and carbon dioxide chemoreceptors.

We developed two assays, flow-through respirometry and direct video microscopy of respiratory movements, to quantify fruit fly respiration at the group and individual level, respectively. Using these assays and stimuli of varying oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, we identified Gyc88E, an atypical guanylyl cyclase, as a likely oxygen chemoreceptor and CG31183, a receptor guanylyl cyclase, as a putative carbon dioxide receptor, with work ongoing to further support these conclusions and to characterize the expression patterns of these genes. Thus, the fruit fly’s respiratory behavior is sensitive to levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide, can be quantified, and appears to be modulated by the sensitivity of Gyc88E and CG31183 to oxygen and carbon dioxide, respectively.


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