Quantification of gait parameters in freely walking wild type and sensory deprived Drosophila melanogaster

Elife. 2013 Jan 8;2:e00231. doi: 10.7554/eLife.00231.


Coordinated walking in vertebrates and multi-legged invertebrates [corrected] such as Drosophila melanogaster requires a complex neural network coupled to sensory feedback. An understanding of this network will benefit from systems such as Drosophila that have the ability to genetically manipulate neural activities. However, the fly's small size makes it challenging to analyze walking in this system. In order to overcome this limitation, we developed an optical method coupled with high-speed imaging that allows the tracking and quantification of gait parameters in freely walking flies with high temporal and spatial resolution. Using this method, we present a comprehensive description of many locomotion parameters, such as gait, tarsal positioning, and intersegmental and left-right coordination for wild type fruit flies. Surprisingly, we find that inactivation of sensory neurons in the fly's legs, to block proprioceptive feedback, led to deficient step precision, but interleg coordination and the ability to execute a tripod gait were unaffected.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00231.001.

Keywords: D. melanogaster; coordination; gait analysis; motor neuron; proprioception; sensory feedback; walking behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Extremities / innervation*
  • Feedback, Sensory
  • Gait*
  • Genotype
  • Optics and Photonics / instrumentation
  • Optics and Photonics / methods
  • Phenotype
  • Proprioception* / genetics
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*
  • Software
  • Time Factors
  • Transducers
  • Video Recording
  • Walking*