Ge Yang – Research
Ge intends to apply the new QSTORM imaging technique to study the traffic flow of resources and materials through individual nerve cells, as they transmit signals along neural pathways between the brain and other regions of the body. Ge chose the common fruit fly, known to scientists as Drosophila melanogaster, as his model research organism.
This fly species is one of the most commonly used model organisms in biology. Fruit flies have numerous advantages for researchers, including the fact that they are easy to care for and breed rather quickly. The genome of D. melanogaster was sequenced back in 2000. It contains only four pairs of chromosones (the human genome has 23 pairs); nevertheless, 75% of known human disease-related genes have a recognizable match in the genome of fruit flies, and the fly is the target of many studies of neurodegenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s disease.
Ge has already conducted numerous imaging studies of the nerve cells of these flies, but the real imaging data he is after remains well beyond the resolution of existing optical microscope techniques.
Once Jessica Winter and Peter Kner have developed the initial QSTORM imaging protocol, and the technique has been tested in cells in vitro, Ge will develop a technique for injecting the switchable quantum dots into the neuronal cells of fruit flies in vivo. He will have tagged the glowing Qdots so that they adhere to the transport vesicles that move cargo along the cell’s axons, and then Peter will apply the STORM super-resolution imaging technique with adaptive optics. At the same time, Beth Brainerd will be working with Peter to apply the QSTORM imaging technique to study live muscle activation in her model organism for this project – zebrafish. Beth and Ge will then both be able to compare STORM imaging results to other imaging methods commonly used to deliver insight in their areas of study.