We investigate how the brain produces behaviour by looking at how movements are generated and adjusted to meet animals’ needs.
We are interested in the neuroscience of how animals move to meet their needs. We explore the mechanisms that underlie the generation of movements using a combination of multi-disciplinary approaches that include imaging, electrophysiology, and connectomics. We are also a maker lab, building custom microscopes and other setups to help us do the experiments we want to do.
We use the zebrafish and fruit fly larva model organisms to see how the nervous systems of these diverse animals have evolved to move around in their environment.
Yang E, Zwart MF, Rubinov M, James B, Wei Z, Narayan S, Vladimirov N, Mensh BD, Fitzgerald JE, Ahrens MB. A brainstem integrator for self-localization and positional homeostasis. BioRxiv doi: 10.1101/2021.11.26.468907
Babski H, Jovanic T, Surel C, Yoshikawa S, Zwart MF, Valmier J, Thomas JB, Enriquez J, Carroll P, Garcès A. A GABAergic Maf-expressing interneuron subset regulates the speed of locomotion in Drosophila. Nat Commun. 2019 Oct 22;10(1):4796. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12693-6
Kohsaka H, Zwart MF, Fushiki A, Fetter RD, Truman JW, Cardona A, Nose A. Regulation of forward and backward locomotion through intersegmental feedback circuits in Drosophila larvae. Nat Commun. 2019 Jun 14;10(1):2654. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-10695-y.
Oswald MC, Brooks PS, Zwart MF, Mukherjee A, West RJ, Giachello CN, Morarach K, Baines RA, Sweeney ST, Landgraf M. Reactive oxygen species regulate activity-dependent neuronal plasticity in Drosophila. Elife. 2018 Dec 17;7. pii: e39393. doi:10.7554/eLife.39393.
Kawashima T, Zwart MF, Yang CT, Mensh BD, Ahrens MB. The Serotonergic System Tracks the Outcomes of Actions to Mediate Short-Term Motor Learning. Cell. 2016 Nov 3;167(4):933-946.e20. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2016.09.055.
Zwart MF, Pulver SR, Truman JW, Fushiki A, Fetter RD, Cardona A, Landgraf M. Selective Inhibition Mediates the Sequential Recruitment of Motor Pools. Neuron. 2016 Aug 3;91(3):615-28. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2016.06.031.
Schneider-Mizell CM, Gerhard S, Longair M, Kazimiers T, Li F, Zwart MF, Champion A, Midgley FM, Fetter RD, Saalfeld S, Cardona A. Quantitative neuroanatomy for connectomics in Drosophila. Elife. 2016 Mar 18;5. pii: e12059. doi:10.7554/eLife.12059.
Fushiki A, Zwart MF, Kohsaka H, Fetter RD, Cardona A, Nose A. A circuit mechanism for the propagation of waves of muscle contraction in Drosophila. Elife. 2016 Feb 15;5. pii: e13253. doi:10.7554/eLife.13253.
Heckscher ES, Zarin AA, Faumont S, Clark MQ, Manning L, Fushiki A, Schneider-Mizell CM, Fetter RD, Truman JW, Zwart MF, Landgraf M, Cardona A, Lockery SR, Doe CQ. Even-Skipped(+) Interneurons Are Core Components of a Sensorimotor Circuit that Maintains Left-Right Symmetric Muscle Contraction Amplitude. Neuron. 2015 Oct 21;88(2):314-29. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2015.09.009.
Zwart MF, Randlett O, Evers JF, Landgraf M. Dendritic growth gated by a steroid hormone receptor underlies increases in activity in the developing Drosophila locomotor system. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Oct1;110(40):E3878-87. doi:10.1073/pnas.1311711110.
Join the lab
We are currently recruiting a PhD student to work on a fully-funded collaborative project with Prof Michael Pankratz (University of Bonn). Start date between September 2022 and May 2023, no restrictions on nationality of applicant.
Animals move around in a huge range of different movements: crawling, walking, swimming, and so on. This diversity in movements requires the brain to be able to produce a range of specific activity patterns, yet only produce one at a time, sometimes using mostly the same cells. For instance, the brain can produce walking or skipping, which use mostly the same muscles, but should not do so at the same time. We know very little about how the brain does this. Are there dedicated cells for each movement? Where are the differences generated? Key will be to see how the brain instructs the spinal cord via the descending neural connections. We need to find out which brain cells are active during each movement, how these cells are connected to cells within the spinal cord, and how these properties combine to produce behaviour.
How to apply
If this question interests you, send your application to both Dr Maarten Zwart (St Andrews) and Professor Michael Pankratz (Bonn) at the following email addresses: pankratz[at]uni-bonn.de (Michael Pankratz) and mfz[at]st-andrews.ac.uk (Maarten Zwart). For more information, see the online call.
Your application should include the following:
- Statement on why you are the right candidate (max. 1 A4)
- 2 or 3 references
- Evidence of English proficiency (where appropriate)
Please reference ‘Zwart-Pankratz Global PhD application’ in the subject line of your email.
We’re always looking for keen postdocs, PhD students, and technicians to join the team! Just drop Maarten a line. Anyone from a wide range of backgrounds including neuroscience, physics, engineering, and computer science who is interested in working in the lab is encouraged to get in touch. Funding for PhD students is available through:
Lecturer in Neuroscience
tel +44 01334 462086