Mathematical Biology Seminar

Santiago Schnell
Department of Molecular And Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan

Investigating the modulation of Drosophila aging by linking sexual perception and reward

Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at 3:05pm
LCB 219

Sensory perception can modulate aging and physiology. Perception of female sexual pheromones without mating in male fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, rapidly and reversibly decreases fat stores, reduces resistance to starvation, and limits life span. Mating reverses the effects of pheromone perception. The mortality rates also drops after pheromone removal, and eventually becomes equivalent with the mortality rates of flies never exposed to female pheromones. Therefore, life span seems to be modulated through the integrated action of sensory and reward circuits, and healthy aging may be compromised when the expectations defined by sensory perception are discordant with ensuing experience. In this talk, we explore the mechanisms modulating the intrinsic mortality rate of "sexually frustrated" flies aided by a computational model, which is validated experimentally. Ageing is complex systems exhibiting surprising behaviors. Our talk illustrates that unaided intuition and experimental work are not enough to understand aging: we also need mathematical and computational models. This work was carried out in collaboration with Dr. Scott Pletcher (University of Michigan Medical School).