Vakil Ahmad
Postdoctoral Student
University of Missouri
Columbia, Missouri USA

Areas of Expertise:
Neurogenetics, Behavior, Sleep, Glial cells, Glia-neuron interaction,

Research Organisms:
Drosophila melanogaster


Research Focus:

I am focused on the role of glial cells in Drosophila sleep behavior through Neurogenetics.
In order to decipher the role of glial cells in fruit fly behaviors such as locomotion and sleep, and to gain an insight into glia-neural interaction underlying regulatory mechanisms for these behaviors, we use a “cell-centric” forward genetic approach to identify the subset glia through studying sleep behavior in Drosophila melanogaster.
We hypothesize that specific glial cells are crucial for various sleep characteristics by modulating the functionality of specific neurons. We genetically manipulate subset glia within a broad glial-specific repo-Gal4 expression pattern using the FINGR (Flippase-induced Intersectional Gal80/Gal4 Repression) method. We perturbed the function of subset glia by expressing different UAS-effectors to determine their effect on sleep, and mapped glial morphology and location by labeling the subset glia with GFP.
It is highly anticipated that the characterization of sleep behavioral phenotypes should help identifying specific and novel roles of subset glia modulating neurons in the regulatory mechanisms of sleep and its functional consequences.