Depression and Motivation

Drosophila as an Animal Model for a Depression-like State and Attention

Goal 1: Understanding the motivational system of invertebrates. Decisions of flies are based on needs, internal states and external stimuli. In our recent publication Ries et al. (2017) we describe a serotonergic push-pull motivational system residing in the mushroom bodies. It has astounding similarities with the mammalian motivational control system.

Goal 2: Understanding the etiology and pathogenesis of depression, stress susceptibility and attention deficits without the ethical problems often associated with vertebrate animal models. In that respect transmitter systems can be influenced both neurogenetically and pharmacologically.

Sugar and various antidepressant drugs can make stressed flies “happy” and prevent depression-like states. Overdose, in turn, can cause manic behavior. Foto: Tim Hermanns


Serotoneric system:

  • Ries, A.-S., Hermanns, T., Poeck, B., Strauss, R. (2017) Serotonin modulates a depression-like state in Drosophila responsive to lithium treatment. Nature Communications, 8: article no.: 15738, 10.1038/ncomms15738.

Dopaminergic system:

  • Riemensperger, T., Isabel, G., Coulom, H., Neuser, K., Seugnet, L., Kume, K., Iché-Torres, M., Cassar, M., Strauss, R., Preat, T., Hirsh, J., Birman, S. (2011). Behavioral consequences of dopamine deficiency in the Drosophila central nervous system. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 108(2): 834-839, 10.1073/pnas.1010930108.