Fourier analysis of wing beat signals: assessing the effects of genetic alterations of flight muscle structure in Diptera

Biophys J. 1994 Sep;67(3):1149-54. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(94)80582-X.


A method for determining and analyzing the wing beat frequency in Diptera is presented. This method uses an optical tachometer to measure Diptera wing movement during flight. The resulting signal from the optical measurement is analyzed using a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) technique, and the dominant frequency peak in the Fourier spectrum is selected as the wing beat frequency. Also described is a method for determining quantitatively the degree of variability of the wing beat frequency about the dominant frequency. This method is based on determination of a quantity called the Hindex, which is derived using data from the FFT analysis. Calculation of the H index allows computer-based selection of the most suitable segment of recorded data for determination of the representative wing beat frequency. Experimental data suggest that the H index can also prove useful in examining wing beat frequency variability in Diptera whose flight muscle structure has been genetically altered. Examples from Drosophila indirect flight muscle studies as well as examples of artificial data are presented to illustrate the method. This method fulfills a need for a standardized method for determining wing beat frequencies and examining wing beat frequency variability in insects whose flight muscles have been altered by protein engineering methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Diptera / anatomy & histology
  • Diptera / genetics
  • Diptera / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / anatomy & histology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Female
  • Flight, Animal / physiology*
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Mutation
  • Myosins / genetics
  • Optics and Photonics
  • Protein Engineering
  • Wings, Animal / physiology*


  • Myosins