Locomotion is a complex motor behavior that may be expressed in different ways using a variety of strategies depending upon species and pathological or environmental conditions. Quadrupedal or bipedal walking, running, swimming, flying and gliding constitute some of the locomotor modes enabling the body, in all cases, to move from one place to another. Despite these apparent differences in modes of locomotion, both vertebrate and invertebrate species share, at least in part, comparable neural control mechanisms for locomotor rhythm and pattern generation and modulation. Significant advances have been made in recent years in studies of the genetic aspects of these control systems. Findings made specifically using Drosophila (fruit fly) models and preparations have contributed to further understanding of the key role of genes in locomotion. This review focuses on some of the main findings made in larval fruit flies while briefly summarizing the basic advantages of using this powerful animal model for studying the neural locomotor system.
Keywords: Drosophila; behavior; connectomics; disease model; drug discovery; genetics; interneurons; larvae; locomotion; motor circuits; optogenetics.
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