PhD position at LMU-Munich
We are looking for a highly motivated PhD student with a strong interest in neuroscience and genetics, to study processing of visual cues used in social behavior in Drosophila melanogaster.
The PhD position is available in my group, that is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine, at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany. The starting date is early 2024, preferably no later than March 2024.
Background: The brain receives and processes sensory cues from multiple parallel channels. Persistent behavioral states are elicited in certain sensory contexts, that not only extend the effect of such contexts for minutes, but also modulate how sensory information is processed. Vision in particular starts as a rather abstract initial percept from which features such as motion, color or discrete objects are extracted. Remarkably, detection of discrete objects underlies seemingly disparate behaviors such as courtship, aggression, or avoidance in Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies).
Fruit flies inhabit fermenting fruits that are crowded with other fruit flies, which forces social interactions. Fly chemosensory cues influence the internal state and determine whether an encounter between two flies results in courtship, aggression, or a simple avoidance. Visual cues, specifically the detection and location of the other fly as a discrete, visual object, are used for tracking and orienting maneuvers. Our work identified LC10a visual projection neurons as essential for female tracking. LC10a neurons project to the largest retinorecipient area of the fly brain, the anterior optic tubercle, together with several other neuron types from the LC10-group neurons. Our recent work shows that, unexpectedly, LC10d neurons mediate avoidance of discrete objects. Current projects use LC10a and LC10d neurons as entry points to study how central neural circuits transform visualobject information from a stimulus-correlated signal to a signal correlated with motor output in different social behaviors.
Research papers related to current projects:
Ribeiro, et al, 2018 PMID: 30033367
Ribeiro, et al, 2022 PMID: 35876796
Interested students should have a background and/or interest in social behavior, visual coding, functional imaging, data analysis, genetics, and neuromodulation. We offer a fixed-term position (36 months, salary according to the DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) with possibility to prolong, in an outstanding working environment at LMU-Munich and collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence. Munich is simultaneously a tranquil and buzzing city with a large, vibrant neuroscience community. Please email me for more information.
We look forward to receiving your application. To apply, please send your cv, a motivation letter and contacts of two referees by email.
Application deadline: December 22, 2023