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Practical matters How to find us J.C. (Jean-Christophe) Billeter, Prof Dr

Research interests


We are interested in understanding the mechanisms through which genetic and environmental factors influence behaviour. To this end we study social behaviours in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, whose organization shows a strong interplay between genetics and both biotic and abiotic environmental factors. Our main line of research evolves around the mechanisms that allow individuals to integrate social and environmental cues to make reproductive decisions. These decisions include partner choice, level of sexual promiscuity, and offspring production in changing environments.  We seek to answer these questions at the molecular and cellular level, but are also interested in the implications that genetic variation and adaptation to environmental conditions have on the evolution of social behaviours and mating systems.

Our choice of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as our experimental model is based on the availability of advanced genetic manipulations allowing the study of the function of genes and cells in live behaving individuals. We take a neurogenetics approach characterized by the use of forward, reverse and quantitative genetics to isolate genes that influence social behaviours. We then use these genes as a gateway to the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying social behaviours. For this we use a range of techniques including: molecular genetics such as gene cloning and transgenesis to manipulate gene expression and cellular physiology, analytical chemistry (e.g.Gas chromatography) to study small chemicals acting as social (e.g. pheromones) and environmental (e.g. food) cues, confocal microscopy for studies of gene expression on both fixed and live tissues, and behavioral paradigms to study social behaviours in groups.

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Bioassaying the function of pheromones in Drosophila melanogaster’s social behavior

Genetic mechanisms modulating behaviour through plastic chemosensory responses in insects

Is it time to say good night?: The effect of different sleep deprivation methods on hippocampal immediate early gene expression.

Lack of alignment across yeast-dependent life-history traits may limit Drosophila melanogaster dietary specialization

Natural variation in sociability among Drosophila melanogaster

Social modulation of oogenesis and egg-laying in Drosophila melanogaster

The interplay of sociability and social exposure on sleep rebound in Drosophila melanogaster

The neurobiology of social context-dependent stress responses

A sex-specific switch between visual and olfactory inputs underlies adaptive sex differences in behavior

Does it matter what keeps you awake?: The impact of different sleep deprivation methods on hippocampal memory consolidation

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Do aphrodisiacs really work?


Fruit flies lose their virginity lightly – and then become choosy

“吃出来的性福” 哪些食物能促进情欲(组图)

Do aphrodisiacs really work?

Inside JEB: Brains, not biochemistry, speed up hot flies

The perfect guinea pig - All hail the fruit fly

The Scent of Jealousy! Interview with Meghan on mate-guarding behavior!!

Journal Club: Female flies fight back against mate-guarding by males

Wetenschap: Fluorescerend fruitvliegensperma

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