South West Fly meetings

The South West Fly Meeting is a Genetics Society national Special Interest Group run by Dr James Hodge at the Biomedical Sciences Building, University of Bristol.  These meetings are for all people interested in Drosophila research but who may be due to geographical, time and financial constraints cannot attend the London Fly Meetings. The meetings are regular, informal and consist of research focused seminars given by the scientists who conducted the research, therefore early career scientists are encouraged to present as well as a 50:50 gender split of speakers. Between talks we break for refreshments that allow open discussion of the research presented as well as the sharing of fly stocks, reagents, techniques and best practice. This policy of sharing is further facilitated by an email list of over thirty attending Drosophila research groups. We are always encouraging new members to join us, and the Genetics Society, especially those new to Drosophila research, who maybe want to start a fly collaboration or perform their first fly experiment. Therefore this group promotes the mandate of the National Centre for Reduction, Refinement and Replacement of protected animals in research. We aim to facilitate future collaborations, grant applications, teaching and public engagement opportunities involving Drosophila thereby promoting cutting edge genetics and model organism research in this country. 

Who should attend?

A regular, informal and research focused seminar series allows early career and independent researchers alike to share their research, fly stocks, reagents and techniques.

Find out what happened at the latest meetings here.

South West Fly Meeting Schedule 2017 - 2018


Wednesday 4 April

The fifth South West Fly Meeting was held at the Biomedical Sciences Building, University of Bristol on Wednesday 4 April. Katarzyna Sierzputowska from Drs Benjamin Housden and James Wakefield labs at University of Exeter spoke about an integrated analysis of the protein-protein interaction network of the conserved mitotic kinase, Polo. Using a combination of a high throughput luciferase plate assay screen and embryo GFP imaging, she went through her data so far and her proposed PhD screen and validation. From first year PhD to Professor, Prof Herman Wijnen from University of Southampton gave a talk about the conserved small GTPase Rho1 couples molecular clock circuits to daily sleep/wake behaviour. Again, using a trusty Drosophila screen of the DrosDEL collection for circadian rhythm mutants, his group identified Rho-1 mutant. Rho-RNAi expression in clock neurons caused loss of rhythms in continuous darkness and a collapse of the expanded clock neuron terminal day time phenotype. After tea, Dr Lori Borgal again from Prof James Wakefield lab at University of Exeter, gave a talk entitled “PP2A-B’ regulation of Asp influences stem cell specific spindle pole focusing”. Lori’s talk explored the relationship between phosphatases and kinases in mitosis again taking advantage of GFP live imaging and genetic tractability of the fly. Dr Marc Amoyel (University of Bristol) presented his recent work studying the interaction between cell cycle regulators and stem cell fate. Surprisingly, he finds that factors that control proliferation in stem cells are also required to maintain the stem cells' niche. Lastly, Dr James Hodge from University of Bristol spoke about his labs work on Drosophila models of Alzheimer disease (AD). Based on a recent Epigenome Wide Association Study for AD, they took the top hit which was in the ankyrin gene and made a Drosophila model. These flies like those that overexpress human amyloid b or microtubule associated protein, tau, cause shortened lifespan, locomotor deficits and short-term memory loss. After the talks, there was refreshments kindly provided by the Genetics Society and SLS, and Drosophila researchers continued to discuss their results, planned experiments and role of the fly in science and beyond. If you are interested in attending or presenting at this meeting please contact


Wednesday 13 June

The sixth South West Fly Meeting was held at the Biomedical Sciences Building, University of Bristol on Wednesday 13 June 2018. Dr Angelique Lamaze (Dr James Jepson’s lab) (UCL) spoke about the circadian integration of environmental changes in Drosophila. She looked at the longest sleep bout response of flies after exposure to 30oC and showed the response was clock dependent and mediated by TrpA1 and Dorsal Neuron posterior (DN1p) clock neurons. Using a range of opto/thermo-genetic approaches she found the DN1p projected to the Anterior Optic Tubercle and noted that the flies’ day and night sleep were very different. Dr Owen Peters (Cardiff University) spoke about his lab’s work on the functions of conserved Alzheimer's Disease (AD) risk genes in the Drosophila nervous system. He compared the effect of overexpression of human AD causal genes with RNAi mediated loss of function of fly orthologs of a number of AD risk genes nominated from GWAS performed at Cardiff Dementia Research Institute (DRI). They compared the effect of neuronal and glia misexpression of the genes, measuring lifespan, neurodegeneration, locomotor and ERG electrophysiological defects. Another freshly minted DRI lecturer, Dr Gaynor Smith spoke about the genetics of axonal mitochondrial biology, this process is fundamentally important but also relevant to Parkinson’s disease (PD) which is associated with a range of mitochondrial genes and defects e.g. Pink and Park PD genes controlling mitochondrial fission. Harnessing the power of Drosophila forward genetic screens, she imaged mitochondria in wing neurons with OK371-Gal4>uas-tomato, uas-mito-GFP and performed a MARCM based embryonic lethal screen using Next Generation Sequencing to identify mutants with interesting mitochondrial phenotypes. She went to identify some of her hits, performed genetic rescue and verified results with orthologues in human cell culture.

Dr Katia Jindrich from Prof Helen White-Cooper lab at Cardiff University described her cutting edge molecular biological characterisation of non-canonical nucleosome positioning in Drosophila testis. Is the latest MNaseSeq she set out to map nucleosome positioning in wildtype and Meiotic arrest mutant testes, find 816 genes that lost their expression which is following up on. Jack Curran from Dr James Hodge lab at University of Bristol spoke about his thesis work using Drosophila to determine the effect of ageing on circadian rhythms and sleep. He showed like humans, flies have progressively weaker and longer rhythms as they age and this was accompanied by more sleep and change in clock neuron excitability and structural plasticity. He also performed a screen of rhythmically expressed clock neuron ion channels revealing specific effects on circadian rhythms and sleep. He has therefore elucidated key components of the mysterious membrane clock which can be considered future targets for treatments for ageing insomniacs. Following on nicely from the earlier talks of the day, James Higham presented his work determining the effect of pathological isoforms of human tau associated with AD. James elegantly showed that like in AD, tau results in loss of fly memory, circadian rhythms and sleep. He showed that he was able to take clinically relevant drugs to reverse some of the hyperexcitability caused by neuronal expression of tau, using a clever combination of calcium imaging of memory neurons and pharmacology. He showed for the first time the effect of human tau on neuronal excitability of clock neurons which include increasing firing at night, thereby removing the circadian change in firing across the day, preventing the AD fly from sleeping at night.

After the talks, there was refreshments kindly provided by the Genetics Society and SLS, and Drosophila researchers continued to discuss their results, planned experiments and role of the fly in science and beyond. If you are interested in attending or presenting at this meeting please contact

Spot the four humanised Drosophila mutants (left to right) at the launch of the new Invisible Worlds building at the Eden Project. Answered will be revealed next time.


Please email if you would like to join the South West Fly meeting group and if you would like to speak at the meeting.

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