Cryptochrome-dependent magnetic field effect on seizure response in Drosophila larvae

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle


The mechanisms that facilitate animal magnetoreception have both fascinated and confounded scientists for decades, and its precise biophysical origin remains unclear. Among the proposed primary magnetic sensors is the flavoprotein, cryptochrome, which is thought to provide geomagnetic information via a quantum effect in a light-initiated radical pair reaction. Despite recent advances in the radical pair model of magnetoreception from theoretical, molecular and animal behaviour studies, very little is known of a possible signal transduction mechanism. We report a substantial effect of magnetic field exposure on seizure response in Drosophila larvae. The effect is dependent on cryptochrome, the presence and wavelength of light and is blocked by prior ingestion of typical antiepileptic drugs. These data are consistent with a magnetically-sensitive, photochemical radical pair reaction in cryptochrome that alters levels of neuronal excitation, and represent a vital step forward in our understanding of the signal transduction mechanism involved in animal magnetoreception.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number5799
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 23 Jul 2014