de Belle lab @
Lab: WHI 231 702.895.4675
Email: wangx3 AT unlv.nevada.edu
Environmental stress exposure (nutritive, chemical, electromagnetic and thermal) has been shown to disrupt CNS development in every model system studied to date. However, few studies have linked environmental stress to specific targets in brain development and their consequences for behavioral domains. Here we address this issue by examining the effects of thermal stress on development of the Drosophila melanogaster mushroom body (MB), a highly conserved paired neuropil structure in the insect brain that is important for associative learning and memory. 25 °C-reared D. melanogaster were exposed daily to a brief heat shock (39.5 °C for 40 min) throughout larval and pupal development. In adult flies, MB volume was reduced by roughly 30%, yet the brain central complex and antennal lobes, wings and legs showed little or no reduction in size relative to control flies reared at a constant 25 °C. The ability of heat-shocked flies to form paired memories of odor and electric shock was also profoundly reduced, even though these flies showed normal olfactory ability and shock avoidance. We are now investigating the mechanisms of this phenomenon.
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