Daniel Knebel

PhD student at Prof. Amir Ayali’s laboratory

Research title
Higher motor center and central pattern generators interaction in the locust walking behavior.


Research project

Neuronal oscillators play a major role in behavior. Central pattern generators (CPGs) are neuronal oscillators that produce rhythmic motor output even in the absence of sensory or descending inputs.
Insect walking has attracted ample research as a model for CPG interactions and the way by which multiple CPGs orchestrate behavior. The suboesophageal ganglion (SOG), one of the insect head ganglia, was shown to be involved in the initiation and maintenance of insect walking. However, the underlying neuronal mechanisms by which the SOG influences the leg CPGs have not yet been described.
By utilizing fully intact animals, reduced semi-intact, and in-vitro preparations, we have found that the SOG is capable of both activating and coordinating the walking CPG circuits of the locust, as well as modulating the motor response to proprioceptive information. These results advance our understanding of the mechanisms by which the SOG supervise and control locust walking, and provide an example of the interactions of high motor centers and CPGs in locomotion behavior.


Meetings

  • 2015 - Gordon research conference on Neuroethology: Behavior, Evolution & Neurobiology in Lucca (Barga), Italy
    Poster presentation: Central-pattern-generators and higher motor centers interactions.

  • 2015 - Gordon Research Seminar on Neuroethology: Behavior, Evolution & Neurobiology in Lucca (Barga), Italy
    Oral presentation: Higher motor centers and central-pattern-generators interactions in locust walking
    Poster presentation: Central-pattern-generators and higher motor centers interactions

  • 2014 – First Sagol School of Neuroscience retreat, Jerusalem, Israel. Poster: Central-pattern-generators and higher motor centers interactions The role of the suboesophageal ganglion in locust walking-related behavior.

  • 2012 – Tenth International Congress of Neuroethology in Maryland, USA. Poster: Neuromodulation and Pattern-Generator Circuit Interactions in the Locust Stomatogastric Nervous System.

  • 2012 – Sagol School of Neuroscience Brain Plasticity Symposium in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Poster: Neuromodulation and Pattern-Generator Circuit Interactions in the Locust Stomatogastric Nervous System.


Publications

  • Knebel, D., Rillich, J., Pflüger, H.-J., and Ayali, A. (2017). The Functional Connectivity Between the Locust Leg Pattern Generating Networks and the Subesophageal Ganglion Higher Motor Center. Submitted.

  • Knebel, D., Ayali, A., Pflüger, H.-J., and Rillich, J. (2017). Rigidity and Flexibility: The Central Basis of Inter-Leg Coordination in the Locust. Front. Neural Circuits 10, 112.

  • Rand D. Knebel D. and Ayali A. (2012) Octopamine neuromodulation in the locust stomatogastric nervous system. Frontiers in physiology, 3:288.

  • Ayali A., Couzin-Fuchs E., David I., Gal O., Holmes P., Knebel D. (2014) Sensory feedback in cockroach locomotion: current knowledge and open questions. Journal of comparative physiology A.


Awards

  • 2016 - One-month European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Short Term Fellowship

  • 2014 – Best blitz-presentation award at the first Sagol School of Neuroscience retreat.

    2013 – Five month DAAD research grant for doctoral candidates and young academics and scientists.

    2012 – Three month DAAD research grant for doctoral candidates and young academics and scientists.

    2012 – Dean's honored student.

    2011 – B.Sc. with Honors (magna cum laude).

    2011 – Oxford University Press Achievement in Biosciences Prize 2011.

    2010 - Heinrich Böll Scholarship for the Leo Baeck Summer University in Jewish Studies


Contact
d.m.knebel@gmail.com


Research Categories: Behavioral Neuroscience