- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
So says molecular biologist Wanhe Li, an assistant professor at Texas A&M and a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar, who will present a seminar, hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, on Wednesday, Nov. 2
Li will discuss "How Time Flies During Lockdown?--Mechanisms Underlying Chronic Social Isolation-induced Sleep Loss in Drosophila" at her in-person and virtual seminar at 4:10 p.m., in 122 Briggs Hall. The Zoom link: https://ucdavis.zoom.us/j/95882849672.
Introducing her will be molecular geneticist and physiologist Joanna Chiu, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"Chronic social isolation and loneliness have profound impacts on public health," Li says in her abstract. "Though experimental manipulations are widely applied to studying sleep/wakefulness and circadian regulation in animal models, how normal sleep is perturbed by social isolation and chronic stress is largely unknown. We previously reported that chronically isolated animals exhibit sleep-loss accompanied by over-consumption of food. The observed behavioral changes induced by chronic social isolation stress is linked to neural activities in specific neural circuits in the Drosophila brain."
"These results," she continued, "resonate with anecdotal findings of loneliness-associated sleep difficulties and hyperphagia in humans, and present a mechanistic link between chronic social isolation, metabolism, and sleep, addressing a long-standing call for animal models focused on loneliness. Future work built upon this model will help us understand the perception of social isolation and other emotional states, the regulation of sleep/wakefulness, and the regulation of metabolism at the intersection of genetics, biological timing, and neurobiology."
Science Daily, in its Aug. 18, 2021 edition, reported on her research (co-authored by eight colleagues): "COVID-19 lockdowns scrambled sleep schedules and stretched waistlines. One culprit may be social isolation itself. Scientists have found that lone fruit flies quarantined in test tubes sleep too little and eat too much after only about one week of social isolation, according to a new study published in Nature. The findings, which describe how chronic separation from the group leads to changes in gene expression, neural activity, and behavior in flies, provide one of the first robust animal models for studying the body's biological reaction to loneliness."
Li, who holds a bachelor's degree in biological sciences (2004) from Nankai University, Tianjin, China, received her doctorate in molecular and cellular biology from Stony Brook University in 2011 through a joint program with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Laurel Hollow, N.Y. She served as a postdoctoral associate and research associate,The Rockefeller University, New York City.
Some of her latest publications:
- Li, W, Keene, AC. Flies sense the world while sleeping. Nature. 2021;598 (7881):423-424. doi: 10.1038/d41586-021-02441-6. PubMed PMID:34588643 .
- Li, W, Wang, Z, Syed, S, Lyu, C, Lincoln, S, O'Neil, J et al.. Chronic social isolation signals starvation and reduces sleep in Drosophila. Nature. 2021;597 (7875):239-244. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03837-0. PubMed PMID:34408325 PubMed Central PMC8429171.
- Ahmad, M, Li, W, Top, D. Integration of Circadian Clock Information in the Drosophila Circadian Neuronal Network. Journal of Biological Rhythms. 2021;36 (3):203-220. doi: 10.1177/0748730421993953. PubMed PMID:33641476 PubMed Central PMC8114447.
- Garaulet, DL, Sun, K, Li, W, Wen, J, Panzarino, AM, O'Neil, JL et al.. miR-124 Regulates Diverse Aspects of Rhythmic Behavior in Drosophila. Journal of Neuroscience, 2016;36 (12):3414-21. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3287-15.2016. PubMed PMID:27013671 PubMed Central PMC4804003.
- Shuai, Y, Hirokawa, A, Ai, Y, Zhang, M, Li, W, Zhong, Y et al.. Dissecting neural pathways for forgetting in Drosophila olfactory aversive memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U S A. 2015;112 (48):E6663-72. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1512792112. PubMed PMID:26627257 PubMed Central PMC4672816.
Emily Meineke, assistant professor of urban landscape entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, coordinates the department's seminars for the 2022-23 academic year. All 11 seminars will take place both person and virtually at 4:10 p.m. on Wednesdays in Room 122 of Briggs Hall except for the Nov. 9th and Dec. 7th seminars, which will be virtual only, she said. (See list of seminars)
For further information on the seminars or to resolve any technical difficulties with Zoom, contact Meineke at email@example.com.