Coordination of legs during straight walking and turning in Drosophila melanogaster

J Comp Physiol A. 1990 Aug;167(3):403-12. doi: 10.1007/BF00192575.


Leg coordination of Drosophila melanogaster was studied using frame-by-frame film analysis. 1. For fastest walking alternating tripod coordination is observed which slightly deviates towards tetrapody as a function of step period. During acceleration or deceleration legs may transiently recover in diagonal pairs. 2. Mean step length increases with step frequency. 3. Mean recovery stroke duration increases with step period and plateaus beyond a period of about 110 ms. Middle legs recover significantly faster than others. 4. Ipsilateral footprints are transversally separated. 5. Walking is usually initiated in tripod coordination (frequently in combination with a turn), otherwise in an accelerating sequence which rapidly shifts towards tripod pattern. Flies can stop abruptly or decelerate over about one metachronal wave. 6. Short interruptions in walking are observed. Legs interrupted during swing phase stay lifted and finish recovery thereafter. 7. Slight changes in walking direction are obtained by altering step lengths only. Tight turns are composed of two or three phases with backward, zero and forward translatory components. In fast turning tripod coordination is maintained. Otherwise body sides can decouple widely. In all turns numbers of contralateral metachronal waves were equal. Results are compared to those for other walking insects and their relevance in screens for locomotor mutants is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Gait / genetics
  • Locomotion / genetics*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Mutation*
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Phenotype