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PhD Transfer Exam – Nawar Alwash – Thursday, January 25th, 2018

January 25, 2018 @ 1:10 pm - 2:00 pm

PhD Transfer Exam

Thursday, January 25th, 2018 at 1:10pm –University of Toronto at Mississauga – CCT2134

Nawar Alwash (Levine lab)

“The role of foraging gene (for) in Drosophila melanogaster social interaction networks (SINs)”


Drosophila melanogaster display social behaviours such as courtship, mating, aggression and foraging in groups. Recent studies have shown that different strains of D. melanogaster form social interaction networks (SINs) with different properties, suggesting that genes influence network phenotypes. The foraging gene (for) regulates food-related behaviours in several species including D. melanogaster. There are two naturally occurring alleles of the for gene: rover and sitter, where the rover flies are characterized with higher mobility in the presence of food. However, the role of the two variants in the formation of social networks remains unknown and that will be the focus of my research. I hypothesize that the for gene influences the formation of SINs and thus manipulating the for gene would lead to formation of networks with different SIN properties. I have shown that SINs formed by rover females have different properties than those formed by sitter females. I have also shown an effect of for copy number that is reflected in SIN phenotypes. To investigate this further, I aim to characterize the role of the for gene on social structure by investigating the effect of for on the formation of SINs during different developmental stages. I will also examine the allelic dominance pattern of the rover/sitter variant of for in the formation of SINs. Furthermore, I will explore the effect of external factors, such as stress and social experience, on SIN formation of the rover/sitter variants. This research will be the first to identify a specific gene influencing social network structure in D. melanogaster. In addition, understanding the role of for in the formation of SINs could potentially provide an insight into understanding the role of this gene in SIN formation of other organisms.


January 25, 2018
1:10 pm - 2:00 pm
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