Martin G. Burg


Histamine has been found to function as a visual and mechanosensory neurotransmitter in Drosophila melanogaster. However, little is known about its role in higher-order behaviors in flies, such as courtship behavior. The process of courtship in Drosophila is a complex behavior exhibiting distinct stages that can be easily observed. This project examines the differences in courtship behaviors between flies that have decreased histamine levels due to a mutation in the gene encoding the enzyme histidine decarboxylase (Hdc) and flies that have normal Hdc function. Pairs of virgin flies were introduced to each other to observe courtship behavior, and the time after introduction at which different stages of courtship occurred was recorded. Results presented reflect the current progress of the research. Differences observed between the strains of flies could have implications for recent findings linking a mutation in the human Hdc gene and Tourette’s syndrome in humans.