Gabriel Alberto Gasque, Ph.D.

Title
Associate Editor
Institution
Public Library of Science
City, State
San Francisco, CA
Country
United States
E-mail
ggasque[at]gmail.com
Website
www.plos.org
Research Field
Neuroscience
Award Year
2006
Country Of Origin
Mexico
Mentor Name
Leslie Vosshall, Ph.D.

Research

I am interested in understanding how the internal state of animals modulates their perception of the surrounding world and their corresponding behavioral output. One clear example is how our hunger status determines the way we perceive food-related stimuli and the manner in which we respond to them. The case of food-intake regulation has deep medical implication, as both under-eating and over-eating in humans lead to severe health and psychological problems. Animals have evolved a variety of feeding behaviors in terms of foraging strategies and food preferences; however, there is a common theme: food intake should be tightly regulated to meet metabolic needs. I use the larva of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to study the neurological basis of hunger and satiety. Drosophila goes through four different life stages: embryo, larva, pupa, and adult. While adult flies regulate their feeding according to energy reserves and the circadian clock, just like normal humans, the larva resembles a binge eater because it feeds continuously for some 80 hours, eating 3-5 times its own weight in food. About 10 hours before puparitation, the larva stops eating, leaves the food and wanders to prepare for puparium formation. I am exploiting this sharp transition in feeding behavior to tackle the genetic components of satiety.