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Snoring or soaring? Strength of fruit-fly immune system varies
Date:12/14/2008

ring the daytime, and engage in what passes for sleep during the nighttime. (Flies don't have eyelids, so it's hard to tell if they're really asleep. Researchers instead characterize cyclical patterns of rest and activity in terms of the number of movements per five-minute cycle.)

Shirasu-Hiza flummoxed flies into a 12-hour circadian-rhythm phase shift by raising them in shoeboxes, wired by Schneider with timers that controlled batteries of light bulbs. This enabled the researchers to infect two sets of flies (from "nighttime" or "daytime" shoeboxes) in a single experimental session. This Shirasu-Hiza did, using syringes fashioned from glass capillary tubes heated and then stretched so that they were extremely thin, but still hollow. Armed with these syringes which are powered by a machine called a "Picospritzer" she spent hours on end in a dark room lit only by a red bulb (red light doesn't seem to perturb the daily rhythms of the flies) while injecting, one by one, multiple hundreds of tiny, week-old male flies (half of them sleeping, the other half awake) per session with precise volumes of solutions containing different pathogenic bacteria.

In previously published research, when Shirasu-Hiza and her colleagues had infected normal flies with measured doses of two noted human pathogens, Streptococcus pneumoniae or Listeria monocytogenes, the sickened flies' circadian rhythms were disturbed. They stumbled around more randomly, and stood still for relatively shorter periods. Moreover, genetic mutants lacking circadian cycles of rest and activity died more quickly on infection with these pathogens than normal flies did.

In the new round of experiments, the researchers observed that, consistent with those earlier findings, the activity of phagocytes in normal fruit flies oscillates with their circadian rhythms. Flies infected with S. pneumonia or L. monocytogenes during resting periods ("nighttime") also survive significantly longer than t
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Contact: Bruce Goldman
goldmanb@stanford.edu
650-725-2106
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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