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PhD Proposal Exam – Rebecca Rooke (Levine lab)

September 10, 2015 @ 2:10 pm - 3:10 pm

PhD Proposal Exam

Thursday September 10, 2:10 pm – Room DV 3129, University of Toronto at Mississauga

Rebecca Rooke (Levine lab)

“Identifying and Characterizing the Gene(s) Responsible for the Social Network Property, Betweenness Centrality, in Drosophila melanogaster


Social behaviour varies across the animal kingdom. Drosophila melanogaster, the vinegar fly, exhibits various social behaviours, such as courting and aggression. Several behavioural assays in Drosophila research have involved only two flies, providing a limited social environment. Thus, these assays do not reflect Drosophila behaviour in larger groups.

In 2012, it was shown that Drosophila groups form social interaction networks and that the network property, betweenness centrality (BC), differs between two wild-type strains suggesting that there is a genetic underpinning to this behaviour. BC is a measurement that indicates the relative importance of individuals for information flow and network cohesion. One study has shown that BC is likely heritable in humans; however, no previous studies have manipulated the genetic contribution of a network property. Consequently, the relationship between genes and networks remains correlative.

My project seeks to find and characterize the gene(s) responsible for BC in Drosophila. To date, I have narrowed down the gene(s) to a locus on the 3rd chromosome. Once I find the gene(s), I will characterize and manipulate its expression, manipulate the cells that express it, and dissect the social environments that alter it. My research will be the first to characterize a causal relationship between genes and social network behaviour. This will give us a better understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of social interactions in Drosophila.



September 10, 2015
2:10 pm - 3:10 pm
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