Image by Jens Hillebrand
One of the many functions of glial cells is to provide an efficient insulation of the nervous system and thereby allowing a fine tuned homeostasis of ions and other small molecules. Using EM analysis and single cell labeling experiments all glial cell layers of the Drosophila nervous system were characterized.
Drosophila larvae show stereotyped locomotion behavior. They navigate with specific strategies and also show aggregation and dispersal behaviors. However, the mechanisms coordinating larval locomotion in respect to other animals, especially in close proximity and during/after physical contacts are currently only little understood.
In both vertebrates and invertebrates, glial cells wrap axonal processes to ensure electrical conductance. In humans, disruption of the myelin sheath is linked to several severe diseases. We are using Drosophila as a model to identify genes underlying late differentiation of the peripheral glial cells.