Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award



Honors Program

Faculty Advisor

Kristin Latham and Michael Baltzley

Honors Program Director

Gavin Keulks


The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is commonly used to understand genetic and behavioral mechanisms. This study is testing whether Drosophila have an innate directional magnetic preference based on the Earth’s ambient magnetic field. The flies were tested using a sequential Y-maze that was housed within a Faraday cage to block out any radio frequency fields. Half of the trials were oriented so that north was to the left and the other half with north to the right. The results for male and female flies were analyzed separately given that male flies have been shown to show a significantly stronger magnetotactic behavior than the females. The average vial exit point for males (N/R = 4.9 } 0.2; N/L = 4.9 } 0.2) and females (N/R = 5.2 } 0.2; N/L = 4.7 } 0.2) were not significantly different from each other (p > 0.1) or from the expected value (p > 0.9). While this study reveals no innate directional preference in Drosophila, or a significant magnetic orientation behavioral difference between male and female flies, to the Earth’s ambient magnetic field, it opens up many avenues for future research of magnetic orientation behavior in Drosophila.

WallaceNatalie_2016_PPT.pptx (2150 kB)
Powerpoint presentation