Professor Dr. Michael Pankratz

Department of Molecular Brain Physiology and Behavior
Life & Medical Sciences Institute (LIMES)
University of Bonn
Carl-Troll-Str. 31
D- 53115 Bonn

Phone +49 (0) 228 73  62740 (office)
Fax +49 (0) 228 73 62641
Jacqueline Fabula (assistant),


Curriculum vitae Professor Dr. Michael Pankratz


Research Interests

Our lab is studying how the brain controls behavior and metabolism, using Drosophila as a model organism. We are focusing on the neural circuits that mediate feeding behavior, and the internal metabolic and external sensory factors that modulate feeding motor programs. A combination of genetic, behavioral, imaging and electrophysiological tools are being used to identify the feeding neural circuitry and to elucidate the central mechanisms by which specific motor programs are selected to achieve meaningful behavior.

Currently, a major goal is an elucidation of the complete synaptic connectivity pattern underlying the larval feeding system, i.e, the feeding connectome. In collaboration with labs at HHMI Janelia Research Campus, we are mapping the sensory inputs, and the motor and endocrine outputs of neurons involved in feeding, based on serial section transmission electron microscope reconstructions of the entire larval central nervous system. These include gustatory sensory neurons, pharyngeal motor neurons, neuroendocrine cells and higher order brain interneurons. By comparing these analyses with other model systems, we hope to identify fundamental functional or organizational principles of neural circuits.

5 most important publications

1. Hückesfeld S, Schoofs A, Schlegel P, Miroschnikow A, Pankratz M. (2015) Localization of motor neurons and central pattern generators for motor patterns underlying feeding behavior in Drosophila larvae. PLOS One, 10(8): e0135011.

2. Schoofs A, Hückesfeld S, Schlegel P, Miroschnikow A, Peters M, Zeymer M, Spiess R, Chiang A, Pankatz M. (2014) Selection of motor programs for suppressing food intake and inducing locomotion in the Drosophila brain. PLOS Biology, 12(6): e1001893 (editor’s pick of the issue).

3. Buch S, Melcher C, Bauer M, Katzenberger J, Pankratz M. (2008) Opposing effects of dietary protein and sugar regulate a transcriptional target of Drosophila insulin-like peptide signaling. Cell Metabolism, 7: 321-332 (featured article of the issue).

4. Melcher C, Bader R, Walther S, Simakov O, Pankratz M. (2006) Neuromedin U and its putative Drosophila homolog hugin. PLOS Biology, 4(3): e68.

5. Melcher C, Pankratz M. (2005) Candidate gustatory interneurons modulating feeding behavior in the Drosophila brain. PLOS Biology, 3(9): e305 (cover story).