Replicating Light-Off Startle Responses in Drosophila melanogaster (2021)

Allen, T., Budenberg, W. J. (2021). Replicating Light-Off Startle Responses in Drosophila melanogaster. bioRxiv,


We present a highly reproducible method for investigating the startle flight responses of wild type Drosophila melanogaster to light-off stimuli, using the automated Zantiks MWP unit. The built-in, live video-tracking of the Zantiks unit measured distance travelled between frames for 24 flies after light-off stimuli, whilst providing video-recordings of each startle. Using light-off stimuli which elicited peak startling, we found evidence for habituation of the startle response after only a few consecutive trials. Distance travelled on startle trials was reduced when a prepulse stimulus of shorter duration was introduced before the light-off stimulus, providing behavioural evidence for prepulse inhibition (PPI). Deficits in habituation and PPI are linked to various psychiatric disorders and our method holds great potential for use alongside genetic and pharmacological manipulations. Here, we demonstrate the capability of this highly automated, high throughput technology to streamline behavioural research on Drosophila, using a replicable, controlled environment.


replication, Drosophila, startle, habituation, prepulse, inhibition