Making an escape: development and function of the Drosophila giant fibre system

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2006 Feb;17(1):31-41. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2005.11.011. Epub 2005 Dec 27.


Flies escape danger by jumping into the air and flying away. The giant fibre system (GFS) is the neural circuit that mediates this simple behavioural response to visual stimuli. The sensory signal is received by the giant fibre and relayed to the leg and wing muscle motorneurons. Many of the neurons in the Drosophila GFS are uniquely identifiable and amenable to cell biological, electrophysiological and genetic studies. Here we review the anatomy and development of this system and highlight its utility for studying many aspects of nervous system biology ranging from neural development and synaptic plasticity to the aetiology of neural disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drosophila melanogaster* / anatomy & histology
  • Drosophila melanogaster* / embryology
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Escape Reaction / physiology*
  • Flight, Animal
  • Humans
  • Motor Neurons* / physiology
  • Motor Neurons* / ultrastructure
  • Nerve Net*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure