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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 fruit fly 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.


Previous news from the research group


2019.10.08 | AnnevonPhilipsborn

Welcome to Baptiste Bertagne who is a new intern i Anne von Philipsborns group

Baptiste will be working on identifiying a compound of seminal fluid of drosophilia responsible for the female song during mating. He will be working in Philipsborn's group from the beginning of September until January.

2019.05.15 | AnnevonPhilipsborn

Welcome to Bijayalaxmi Swain, who is new research assistant in Anne von Philipsborn's group

Bijayalaxmi Swain is working on characterizing the function of interneurons involved in male song by a behavioural experiments (song recording) combined with genetic manipulation of defined neuronal classes by neuronal silencing, optogenetic activation, RNAi mediated knockdown of neurotransmission genes or feminisation by expression of genes of…

Picture of Sofie Dorset

2019.03.25 | AnnevonPhilipsborn

Welcome to new student Sofie Rahbek Dorset in Group Leader Anne von Philipsborn's group

Sofie is a bachelor student in Anne von Philipsborn's lab and studies molecular medicine here at Aarhus University. Sofie will investigate the function of Drosophila genes with human orthologs linked to nocturnal enuresis.    

2018.10.09 | People

Peter Kerwin is accepted as PhD student in Anne von Philipsborn's group

Peter Kerwin has been accepted as PhD student in Anne von Philipsborn's group starting 1 November 2018. He will continue as research asisstant until he starts his PhD studies. Peter will be working on genetic and neuronal mechanisms of female mate choice and acoustic communication.

2018.09.26 | AnnevonPhilipsborn

Xabier Sørtvedt is new student in Philipsborn lab

Xabier Sørtvedt will be working in the Philipsborn lab where he will take part in projects concerning courtship and behavioral analysis in Drosophila. Through these projects, he will be acquiring knowledge about different laboratory techniques, such as Immunohistochemistry and microscopic analysis. Also, he will be gaining more general laboratory…

2018.09.19 | AnnevonPhilipsborn

Elisa Lund Birch is new Student in Philipsborn lab

In Philipsborn Laboratory Elisa Lund Birch will be working on courtship behaviour of fruit flies (Drosophila). She gets instructed in fly genetics, immunohistochemistry and microscopic analysis as well as the analysis of behaviour. The goal for her is to learn the techniques associated with Drosophila as model in…

2018.08.28 | Research news

The Philipsborn group contributes with a chapter in a new textbook “Insect behavior”

“Insect behavior” was published on August 16 by Oxford University Press. Anne Philipsborn has contributed with the chapter “Neurobiology of insect behavior”.

The male fruit fly uses his song to attract the female. Figure: Angela O'Sullivan.

2018.08.24 | Research news

New publication from Anne von Philipsborn's group in the international journal "Current Biology"

Studies of the song of the fruit flies reveal new findings of how the neurons in the brain function. These results can be used to uncover new knowledge on how brains in general function which in the longer term may have medical significance.

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.

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