Activation phase ensures kinematic efficacy in flight-steering muscles of Drosophila melanogaster

J Comp Physiol A. 1996 Sep;179(3):311-22. doi: 10.1007/BF00194985.


During tethered flight in Drosophila melanogaster, spike activity of the second basalar flight-control muscle (M.b2) is correlated with an increase in both the ipsilateral wing beat amplitude and the ipsilateral flight force. The frequency of muscle spikes within a burst is about 100 Hz, or 1 spike for every two wing beat cycles. When M.b2 is active, its spikes tend to occur within a comparatively narrow phase band of the wing beat cycle. To understand the functional role of this phase-lock of firing in the control of flight forces, we stimulated M.b2 in selected phases of the wing beat cycle and recorded the effect on the ipsilateral wing beat amplitude. Varying the phase timing of the stimulus had a significant effect on the wing beat amplitude. A maximum increase of wing beat amplitude was obtained by stimulating M.b2 at the beginning of the upstroke or about 1 ms prior to the narrow phase band in which the muscle spikes typically occur during flight. Assuming a delay of 1 ms between the stimulation of the motor nerve and muscle activation, these results indicate that M.b2 is activated at an instant of the stroke cycle that produces the greatest effect on wing beat amplitude.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila
  • Female
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscles / physiology*