Neurogenetics of Locomotion

cesar mendes

César Mendes

Principal Investigator
PhD in Biology, The Rockefeller University / NOVA University of Lisbon
PostDoc, Columbia University



Campus Sant'Ana
Pólo de Investigação, NMS, UNL
Rua do Instituto Bacteriológico, nº 5
1150-082 Lisboa, Portugal

Phone: (+351) 218 803 101
E-mail: cesar.mendes(at)

Main interests

Motor actions are the ultimate manifestation of behavior and its underlying circuits. Not surprisingly, many neurological conditions affect motor circuits leading to locomotor impairments. Thus, defining the genes and neuronal circuits regulating motor control, would have significant implications on how we address motor pathologies.

Our goal is to identify the mechanisms, genes and circuits that govern coordinated locomotion using the genetically tractable model system Drosophila melanogaster. This will set the basis for the development of new models of human motor pathologies. In order to carry out these aims, we are taking advantage of the sophisticated Drosophila neurogenetic toolkit that allows gene manipulation and the execution of in vivo gain and loss-of-function experiments in a controlled number of neurons. In addition, we will use a powerful walking assay –the FlyWalker–, which allows a detailed quantitative description of locomotor activity upon disturbances in the locomotion system or during neurodegenerative conditions.

fly tracking


mouse tracking
Inspired by the FlyWalker, we also developed an open-source walking assay adapted to the study of rodent locomotion that we termed MouseWalker, which greatly increases the currently available toolkit for the analysis of wild type and aberrant locomotion in rodents.


FIND OUT MORE about the Neurogenetics of Locomotion Lab Research in the following news:
- Faculty of 1000
- “FlyWalker” Measures Fruit Fly’s Strut — Could Aid Parkinson’s Research
- Neurophysiology: Fruit flies step out
- ‘FlyWalker’ tracks insect feet, could advance Parkinson’s research
- Motion studies: See how they run
- The MouseWalker: monitoring movement behaviors and disorders

Selected Publications
  • Mendes CS*, Bartos I, Márka S, Akay T, Márka S, Mann RS*. (2015) Quantification of gait parameters in freely walking rodents. BMC Biology, 22 July, 13:50. * corresponding authors
  • Bouchard BM, Voleti V, Mendes CS, Lacefield C, Grueber WB, Mann RS, Bruno RM and Hillman EMC, (2015) Swept Light Sheet (SLS) imaging for ultra-fast, volumetric microscopy in awake, behaving organisms. Nature Photonics, Feb;9(2):113-119 (cover article).
  • Mendes CS*, Rajendren SV, Bartos I, Márka S, Mann RS*. (2014) Kinematic responses to changes in walking orientation and gravitational load in Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS ONE 9(10): e109204. * corresponding authors.
  • Mendes CS, Bartos I, Akay T, Márka S, Mann RS. (2013) Quantification of gait parameters in freely walking wild type and sensory deprived Drosophila melanogaster. eLife, January 8.
  • Mendes CS, Levet C, Chatelain G, Dourlen P, Fouillet A, Dichtel-Danjoy ML, Gambis A, Ryoo HD, Steller H, Mollereau B. (2009) ER stress protects from retinal degeneration. The EMBO Journal; 28(9):1296-307.
  • Mendes CS, Arama E, Brown S, Scherr H, Srivastava M, Bergmann A, Steller H, Mollereau B (2006) Cytochrome-c-d regulates developmental apoptosis in the Drosophila retina. EMBO reports ;7(9):933-9 (cover article).

Motivated students (Undergraduate, Master and PhD), technicians and postdocs are encouraged to apply. Interested candidates, please send your CV, a letter explaining your interests and the name/contact information for 1-3 references to cesar.mendes(at)