Navigation Links
Study of dragonfly prey detection wins PNAS Cozzarelli Prize
Date:3/18/2013

WOODS HOLE, MASS.--Paloma T. Gonzalez-Bellido, who is now a postdoctoral scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), and colleagues from Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Minnesota, and Union College have been awarded a 2012 Cozzarelli Prize by the editorial board of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Gonzalez-Bellido and colleagues were honored for the "scientific excellence and originality" of their study of prey detection and interception in dragonflies.

The research was performed at Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus, where Gonzalez-Bellido was a postdoctoral scientist prior to joining the MBL's Program in Sensory Physiology and Behavior in September 2011.

The study provides insight into basic visual-motor neural processing, and has implications for the development of "bioinspired" prosthetics for humans.

"I am honored to receive recognition for this work, for which we bridged the clinical and neuroethological fields, and developed new techniques," says Gonzalez-Bellido. "This award has provided me with fuel to keep up the hard work and further my research plans."

In order for a dragonfly to intercept its prey in midair (which dragonflies do with a 95% success rate), it needs to quickly track the prey and predict its future location. To understand how they undertake this complex task, Gonzalez-Bellido and her co-authors studied a small group of 16 motor neurons, called target-selective descending neurons (TSDNs), in the dragonfly Libellula luctuosa. These neurons, originally discovered by co-author Robert M. Olberg (Union College) in the green darner dragonfly, originate in the brain and extend to the thoracic ganglia, where the neural signal is interpreted and translated into wing muscle movements. Surprisingly, the scientists found that this small group of neurons can detect the direction of target prey with high accuracy and reliability across 360 degrees, and that this information is relayed from the brain to the wing motor centers in population vector form.

In 1988, co-author Apostolos Georgopoulos and his colleagues showed in monkeys that from the activity of neurons in the motor cortex, the population vector algorithm can predict the monkey's upcoming arm movement. However, to achieve a more accurate prediction with this algorithm, upwards of 200 neurons were needed. Thus, the present discovery that a highly accurate neural code carrying information about target direction can be achieved with just 16 neurons is enlightening, and could have applications in the development of bioinspired robots. (Georgopolos is an MD-PhD at the University of Minnesota/Veterans Administration Medical Center who is interested in the development of prosthetics.)

Randy Schekman, PhD, editor-in-chief of PNAS, describes the papers chosen for the Cozzarelli Prize as being "of exceptional interest These papers are not merely technically superior but have had special impact and maybe novel techniques or novel applications of techniques, or very important discoveries."

For this study, Gonzalez-Bellido and Trever Wardill (then at HHMI) developed a new protocol for labeling and confocal imaging of neurons in thick invertebrate tissue samples. In addition, her co-authors and former HHMI colleagues Hanchuan Peng and Jinzhu Yang developed a method for automatic 3D digital reconstruction (tracing) of neurons in microscopic images.

Gonzalez-Bellido sees the dragonfly as a promising model for understanding the evolution of neural systems. "It's exciting that the same computation [the population vector algorithm] is used by monkeys and dragonflies for this task. Dragonflies belong to the most ancient groups of flying insects on earth, and they have changed little in 250 million years" she says.

The Cozzarelli Award was established in 2005 and named in 2007 to honor late PNAS editor-in-chief Nicholas R. Cozzarelli. Gonzalez-Bellido and the other awardees will be recognized at an awards ceremony during the National Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting on April 28, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

Out of more than 3,700 papers published in the journal last year, the editors selected Gonzalez-Bellido's paper and five others for the Cozzarelli Prize.


'/>"/>

Contact: Diana Kenney
dkenney@mbl.edu
508-289-7139
Marine Biological Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Study offers new insights on invasive fly threatening US fruit crops
2. Study questions the role of kinship in mass strandings of pilot whales
3. Dinosaur-era climate change study suggests reasons for turtle disappearance
4. Study: Probiotics reduce stress-induced intestinal flare-ups
5. Carnivores, livestock and people manage to share same space study finds
6. Marine diversity study proves value of citizen science
7. BUSM study reveals therapeutic targets to alter inflammation, type 2 diabetes
8. Sri Lankan snake study reveals new species, rich biodiversity in island country
9. UF study shows spiders, not birds, may drive evolution of some butterflies
10. Study shows how one insect got its wings
11. New genetic study confirms Indian origins of pumpkins and cucumbers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Study of dragonfly prey detection wins PNAS Cozzarelli Prize
(Date:1/26/2017)... CITY , Jan. 26, 2017  Crossmatch, a ... unveiled a new solution aimed at combatting fraud, waste ... solution was introduced at the Action on Disaster Relief ... key meeting point for UN agencies and foreign assistance ... Fraud, waste and abuse are a largely unacknowledged ...
(Date:1/23/2017)...  The latest mobile market research from Acuity Market ... The quarterly average price of a biometric smartphone decreased ... 2016.  There are now 120 sub-$150 models on the ... just 28 a year ago at an average price ... Most , Acuity Market Intelligence Principal, "Biometric Smartphones are ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... MedNet Solutions , an innovative ... spectrum of clinical research, is proud to announce ... the organization in terms of corporate growth, outside ... and services. The company,s exceptional achievements can be ... iMedNet ™ – MedNet,s ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/17/2017)... ... February 17, 2017 , ... ... and DJI, the world’s leading maker of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), are launching ... officers to use drones effectively, and support educational outreach efforts. , AMA and ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... Calif. and GREENWICH, Conn. ... a private investment firm focused on venture growth ... the promotion of Josh Richardson , M.D. ... on investments in biotechnology companies.  He is a ... played important roles in Longitude,s investments in Aimmune ...
(Date:2/16/2017)...   Biostage, Inc. (Nasdaq: BSTG ... bioengineered organ implants to treat cancers and other life-threatening ... the closing on February 15, 2017 of its previously ... and warrants to purchase 20,000,000 shares of common stock, ... was priced at $0.40 per share of common stock, ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... February 16, 2017 , ... ... cervical case. Dr. Kingsley Chin, professor and Harvard trained surgeon, completed the procedure ... was performed on a 55-year-old practicing female physician suffering from degenerative disc disease ...
Breaking Biology Technology: