Friday, June 7, 2013

Laser Controlled Flies

     In response to Jimmy's presentation on Thursday, I thought I'd mention another interesting control mechanism used on insects. It turns out that in addition to remote controlled cockroaches, laser controlled flies have also been created. 
     This fly control system functions through the genetic modification of specific neuron cells in the flies brain. These cells are engineered to have a different ion channel than the one that is normally present. The final key to building a laser controlled fly was the injection of ATP in molecular cages, which will open up and release ATP into the flies brain when struck with UV light. This whole system was engineered into the giant fiber system of the flies brain, the center responsible for behavior such as jumping and flight. These behaviors are triggered when the flies is struck with UV light which releases ATP and triggers the genetically modified ion channel. This flow of events causes the fly to perform the desired behavior as much as 80% of the time. These laser controlled flies are being used to study many different components of neuron functioning.        

Here's a link to the paper:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867405001157

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