Document Type


Date of Award

Spring 5-31-2006

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - (M.S.)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

William Corson Hunter

Second Advisor

Ronald H. Rockland

Third Advisor

Yongkyu Park


Previous studies have shown that several genes are evolutionarily conserved from lower organisms to man, where a number of genes have been directly linked to cardiac function and disease. The Drosophila melanogaster (Fruit Fly) has a genome similar to humans and therefore has proven to be an important animal model to study the role of genetics in cardiac function and disease development. Fruit flies are an important basic science model because of the ease with which genes can be manipulated and quickly expressed due to the short lifespan of the fly. Although standard techniques exist to affect the genome of the fly, measurement of fly cardiac function is not well established due to technical difficulties stemming from the fly size and fragility. This work describes a system developed to measure in vivo cardiac function of an adult Fruit Fly. This involved design of a novel anesthesia chamber to accurately anesthetize fruit flies, construction of a microscope-image analysis system to visualize the fruit fly heart beating in real time, implementation of an image analysis method to analyze fruit fly heart rate, and design and implementation of an electrical pacing system to stress the fruit fly heart. This system was tested with standard yellow white (yw) fruit flies. Data obtained confirmed previous studies showing that aging affects fruit fly heart rate (9 day: 285.2 ± 5.8 bpm, 30 day: 221.7 ± 8.1 bpm, 53 day: 195.1 ± 9 bpm) and ability to handle pacing stress. This study determined that a previously believed cardio-protective anesthesia (Triethylamine, FlyNap®) is in fact a cardiac depressant, where incremental increases in FlyNap® dose decreases fruit fly heart rate linearly, and also affects the fly heart's response to pacing stress. In summary, a system was developed to measure cardiac function in fruit flies, which allows the future study of cardiac function in genetically manipulated fruit flies under normal and diseased conditions.



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