Philipsborn Group

Philipsborn group - Circuits for motor control and behavioural organisation

The Philipsborn group is interested in how the nervous system generates and controls behaviour, at the level of genes, neurons and neuronal circuits.  We use the fruitfly Drosophila with its small and compact nervous system as model organism for basic research in behavioural genetics and circuit neuroscience. Furthermore, we are also collaborating on using Drosophila as a model system for understanding molecular and cellular aspects of neurodegenerative diseases. 

Research focus

Our focus is on motor behaviour, the ultimate output of the nervous system. We are in particular interested in multifunctionality of neuro-muscular systems and mechanisms of motor pattern generation, as well as and higher order organisation of motor behaviour, context dependent action selection and behavioural hierarchy. We aim at uncovering and understanding general mechanisms and principles of nervous system function by investigating small, genetically accessible circuits of identifiable neurons which drive robust and ecologically relevant behaviour. Our main model system is Drosophila reproductive behaviour, courtship and sex-specific communication, which includes a rich set of fascinating innate and experience dependent motor behaviours. Many of the genes and stereotyped neurons underlying sexual behaviour are described, offering an ideal starting point for mechanistic understanding of circuits and their context dependent modulation. We make full use of the state-of-the-art genetic toolkit for observing and probing the Drosophila nervous system at cellular resolution and employ live imaging, anatomical reconstructions, manipulation of neuronal activity and gene expression in combination with behavioural assays.

Available projects

The Philipsborn group has projects available for Master, Bachelor and Erasmus students. Please contact Group Leader Anne von Philipsborn directly, if interested.

A Drosophila male sings to a female by extending and vibrating one wing (Photo: Solvin Zankl). The Drosophila central nervous system with three neuronal classes (blue, red, green), which control courtship behavior and song generation.

News

Picture, Anne von Philipsborn

2018.06.26 | AnnevonPhilipsborn

Congratulations to Anne von Philipsborn, who has had her Group Leader extension approved

The Executive Board of DANDRITE has approved the recommendations from Anne’s Assessment Committee to extend her appointment at DANDRITE for another four-year period until 2023.

2018.06.20 | People

Peter James Kerwin is employed as research assistant per 1. July 2018

Peter James Kerwin is employed as research assistant in Anne von Phillipsborn's group per 1. July 2018. He will be working on genetic and neuronal mechanisms of female mate choice and acoustic communication.

2018.04.17 | People

New Research Assistant in Philipsborn Group

Astrid Lauridsen is new Research Assistant in Anne von Philipsborn's group from April 15th. She will be studying the neuronal circuit mechanisms that underlie courtship behaviour and reward in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

2018.03.15 | People

Atakan Selte is new Erasmus student in Philipsborn Group

Atakan is a medical student from Istanbul University and he will be in the Philipsborn Lab till July. He will investigate Drosophila mate choice strategies with behavioural assays and genetic tools. Furthermore he will be involved in developing a Drosophila model for ATPase mutations causing neurological diseases.

Photo: Colourbox

2018.02.07 | Research news

Genes affect human personality, but only in more demanding climates

The surprising findings are the result of a new joint publication entitled ‘Dopamine genes are linked to Extraversion and Neuroticism personality traits, but only in demanding climates’ by AIAS Former Fellows Machteld N. Verzijden (DANDRITE/Bioscience) and Ronald Fischer (Psychology) and co-author Anna Lee.

2018.02.06 | AnnevonPhilipsborn

Francesca Barbieri is new ERASMUS intern in Philipsborn Group

Graduated in 2017 in biotechnology at the University of Pavia, Francesca is now started as intern in Philipsborn Group. She is interested in neurogenetics, and performing specific genetic techniques in order to access GABAergic neurons and functionally test their role in the Drosophila courtship song patterning. Francesca is also planning to start…

2017.12.11 | People

Krista van den Heuvel is new Trainee in Philipsborn Group

Krista will be investigating the neuronal circuit mechanisms that underlie courtship behaviour and reward in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

2017.09.27 | Research news

Anne von Philipsborn and Bárður Eyjólfsson Ellendersen publish a review article in Insect Science

D. melanogaster sexual behavior was first described by A.H. Sturtevant in 1915. Today, a hundred years later, scientists are still learning about neuroscience by studying this behavior. Our review focuses on findings in circuit neuroscience that have been made within the last two years using D. melanogaster sexual behavior as…

2017.09.14 | People

Machteld Verzijden is new postdoc in Philipsborn Group

Machteld Verzijden is new postdoc in Anne von Philipsborn's group from September 15th. She will be investigating the neurological mechanism of how sugar consumption affects male mating success in Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies.  

2017.07.10 | People

Lasse Østerhaab Sell is Student Assistant in Philipsborn Group

Lasse is new Student Assistant in Anne von Philipsborn's group per July 1st. Duties of the student job include preparation of Drosophila food, autoclaving Drosophila waste and help with maintenance of Drosophila stock.

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