Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: Physiology and Health
Alini Agnes - Harris-Stowe State University
Co-Author(s): Sandra Leal
The world is experiencing a global health epidemic due to the prevalence of obesity across many cultures and countries. As a result, people are becoming more conscientious of their diet and the food they are consuming to improve their health. While sugar consumption has been shown to play a role in the development of obesity, the role of the food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) as a causative agent of obesity is largely unknown. We are using the Drosophila model system to firstly examine whether MSG affects gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter levels in the larval brain. Secondly, we are determining whether MSG regulates larval feeding and food preference behaviors. We hypothesize that MSG consumption will result in aberrant feeding and food preference behaviors due to changes in GABA or other neurotransmitter expression in key regions of the brain. We will be feeding larvae MSG throughout their four-day life cycle. Wild-type third-instar larvae or larvae raised on MSG will be isolated for brain dissections. Brains will be fixed, dissected, and immunolabeled with anti-GABA antibody to detect changes in the pattern or levels of GABA using secondary fluorophores as probes and laser confocal scanning microscopy. This study will provide a preliminary understanding of the potential for MSG to negatively impact human health by using the simple model system Drosophila melanogaster.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): HBCU-UP Implementation Award
Faculty Advisor: Sandra Leal, email@example.com
Role: I am the primary undergraduate researcher carrying out this project.