Want To Make Fruit Flies Dance? Just Add Lasers



Watch out, fruit flies, researchers at the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, Austria want to mess with your head!  It seems that a recent project used a Techaeris favorite – or at least a Justin favorite – lasers to affect the fruit flies’ brains.

From Discovery News:

Dubbed FlyMAD (short for Fly Mind Altering Device), the system uses cameras to track fruit flies in flight and hit them with specially calibrated laser beams. The system is so precise that it can not only target individual fruit flies, it can hone in on specific parts of the flies’ bodies.

The mind of a fruit fly, it turns out, is not terribly complex. By applying light and heat within a certain range, researchers can actually alter particular neural pathways in the fly’s brain. The flies are also genetically modified to be sensitive to these kinds of stimuli.

The researchers were able to stimulate the fruit flies to exhibit dancing and singing, similar to their mating rituals.  They noted that when stimulated, male fruit flies attempted to mate with various inanimate objects.   So it seems the basis of this research could have been to make fruit flies horny.  We all need to have hobbies =)

Why, do you ask, would anybody want to control the mind of a fruit fly?  Perhaps they were bored, or maybe trying to win a bet.

Practical applications of this research do seem pretty much non-existent, though in the wrong hands I suppose it would be possible to mildly annoy someone by inundating them with aroused fruit flies.  On the other hand, if the world ever finds itself at the mercy of an unstoppable swarm of fruit flies?  At least we know that we can make them less intimidating with some heat and light.  Stay safe out there everybody!

IMP will publish their research in Nature Methods.


Source: Discovery News

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