Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

X-Ray Beams and Fruit Fly "Flight Simulator" Show Muscle Power

15.02.2005


What is the connection between a fly’s aerodynamic skill and human heart function? Using the nation’s most brilliant X-rays, located at the Advanced Photon Source at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, a cardiac molecular motors expert from the University of Vermont (UVM) and colleagues from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and Caltech performed research to answer that and other questions.

The research team, including David Maughan, Ph.D., research professor of molecular physiology and biophysics at the UVM College of Medicine, published their results in a report in the Jan. 20 issue of the British journal Nature.

To conduct their research, Maughan and his IIT and Caltech colleagues merged extremely bright X-ray beams and a "virtual-reality flight simulator" for flies, designed by Michael Dickinson of Caltech, to probe the muscles in a flying fruit fly and examine how it generates the extraordinary levels of power that result in flight.



The intense X-rays allowed the researchers to identify changes in the crystal-like arrangement of molecules responsible for generating the rapid contractions of the fly’s muscle with a resolution of 6/10,000th of a second. The flight simulator, which fools a tethered fly into thinking it is flying freely through the air, is necessary to produce a stable pattern of wing motion and enabled the team to capture X-ray images at different stages of muscle contraction. By combining the technologies, the researchers could reconstruct a ’movie’ of the molecular changes in the powerful muscles as they lengthen and shorten to drive the wings back and forth 200 times each second. "At the molecular level, the insect’s flight muscle and a human heart are remarkably similar," Maughan said. "We biologists have always been amazed by how hard these muscles work. Now we have taken advantage of the fruit fly’s small size and shone light right through the whole animal, illuminating the working muscles during flight and probing the molecular motions deep within the muscle cells."

These experiments uncovered previously unsuspected interactions of various proteins as the muscles stretch and contract. The results suggest a model for how these powerful biological motors turn "on" and "off" during the wingbeat. "Small flying insects face an enormous task - generating enough power to overcome gravity, air resistance and drag - and they do this by beating their wings ferociously," said Maughan. "We found out that timing is key, where certain molecules have to be positioned exactly with respect to others during each phase of the wing beat in order to produce the high power output."

The researchers note that the many similarities between insect muscle and other oscillatory muscles, including human cardiac muscle, mean that the research may be adaptable for other uses. "Both insect flight and human heart muscles store energy during each beat that is later used to help flap the wings or expand the heart after contraction. We found that flying insects store much of the elastic energy in the protein filaments themselves, which minimizes the power costs," Maughan said.

A previous publication by Maughan and Tom Irving of IIT demonstrated the feasibility of taking movies of molecular changes in live flies. UVM’s Instrument and Model Facility (IMF), directed by Tobey Clark, built a rotating shutter used in the earlier experiment. IMF scientists Carl Silver and Gill Gianetti fabricated the high-speed device. "How the fly’s muscles turn off and on at 200 times a second has been a mystery that we now can solve in detail using these new technologies" Maughan said.

Maughan and his colleagues’ research experiences with genetically malleable fruit flies has increased the potential for addressing much more specific questions about the roles of various protein components in muscle function using mutant or genetically-engineered flies. Currently, Maughan is collaborating with Jim Vigoreaux, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at UVM, and Doug Swank of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, to determine what parts of the flight muscle proteins are responsible for the high speed.

Collaborators on the X-ray project, in addition to Dickinson and Maughan, are Gerrie Farman, Tanya Bekyarova and David Gore of IIT, and Mark Frye of Caltech.

| newswise
Further information:
http://www.uvm.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>