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Dr Trevor Wardill

Identifying information processing principles used for visually guided behaviours in flies and dynamic skin signalling among cephalopods.
Dr Trevor Wardill

BBSRC David Phillips Fellow

Trevor Wardill is accepting applications for PhD students.

Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 333899

Research Interests

I investigate information processing during visually guided behaviours in invertebrate species. I want to know how relevant information is extracted from visual scenes and used for appropriate behaviour.  For example, what are the general principles that neurons use for extracting motion, colour, shape and polarization. My lab aims to understand the neural basis for dynamic skin signalling in cephalopods and visual feature extraction in flies.

I use the model animal, Drosophila melanogaster to identify visual circuit components and then apply the knowledge gained (from genetic, physiology and behavioural experiments) to locate analogous circuits in other fly species, such as Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) and Killer flies (Coenosia attenuata). Taking this comparative approach allows us to reveal general principles of circuit function. I also investigate how cephalopods detect and display various forms of signals on their skin (movement, colour, pattern, polarization, and 3D shapes). This research is currently in collaboration with Roger Hanlon at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, USA. I use advanced methods in genetics, 2-photon imaging and behavioural quantification and are seeking interest from PhD students.


Paloma Gonzalez-Bellido

KB Rebijith

Cahir O'Kane

Key Publications

Wardill TJ, Fabian ST, Pettigrew A, Stavenga D, Nordström K, Gonzalez-Bellido PT, (2017), A novel interception strategy in a miniature robber fly with extreme visual acuity, Current Biology 27: 1-6

Wardill TJ, Knowles K, Barlow L, Tapia G, Nordström K, Olberg RM and Gonzalez-Bellido PT, (2015), The killer fly hunger games: Target size and speed predicts decision to pursuit, Brain Behav. Evol. , 86: 28-37

Gonzalez-Bellido PT, Wardill TJ, Buresch KC, Ulmer KM, Hanlon RT, (2014), Expression of squid iridescence depends on environmental luminance and peripheral ganglion control, J Exp Biol, 217(Pt 6):850-8

Akerboom J, Carreras Calderón N, Tian L, Wabnig S, Prigge M, Tolö J, Gordus A, Orger MB, Severi KE, Macklin JJ, Patel R, Pulver SR, Wardill TJ, Fischer E, Schüler C, Chen TW, Sarkisyan KS, Marvin JS, Bargmann CI, Kim DS, Kügler S, Lagnado L, Hegemann P, Gottschalk A, Schreiter ER, Looger LL, (2013), Genetically encoded calcium indicators for multi-color neural activity imaging and combination with optogenetics, Front Mol Neurosci, 6:2

Chen TW, Wardill TJ, Sun Y, Pulver SR, Renninger SL, Baohan A, Schreiter ER, Kerr RA, Orger MB, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS, (2013), Ultrasensitive fluorescent proteins for imaging neuronal activity, Nature, 499(7458):295-300

Wardill TJ, Chen TW, Schreiter ER, Hasseman JP, Tsegaye G, Fosque BF, Behnam R, Shields BC, Ramirez M, Kimmel BE, Kerr RA, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS, (2013), A neuron-based screening platform for optimizing genetically-encoded calcium indicators, PLoS One, 8(10):e77728

Akerboom J, Chen TW, Wardill TJ, Tian L, Marvin JS, Mutlu S, Calderón NC, Esposti F, Borghuis BG, Sun XR, Gordus A, Orger MB, Portugues R, Engert F, Macklin JJ, Filosa A, Aggarwal A, Kerr RA, Takagi R, Kracun S, Shigetomi E, Khakh BS, Baier H, Lagnado L, Wang SS, Bargmann CI, Kimmel BE, Jayaraman V, Svoboda K, Kim DS, Schreiter ER, Looger LL, (2012), Optimization of a GCaMP calcium indicator for neural activity imaging, J Neurosci, 32(40):13819-40

Gonzalez-Bellido PT, Wardill TJ, (2012), Labeling and confocal imaging of neurons in thick invertebrate tissue samples, Cold Spring Harb Protoc, 2012(9):969-83

Wardill TJ, Gonzalez-Bellido PT, Crook RJ, Hanlon RT, (2012), Neural control of tuneable skin iridescence in squid, Proc Biol Sci, 279(1745):4243-52

Wardill TJ, List O, Li X, Dongre S, McCulloch M, Ting CY, O'Kane CJ, Tang S, Lee CH, Hardie RC, Juusola M, (2012), Multiple spectral inputs improve motion discrimination in the Drosophila visual system, Science, 336(6083):925-31

Gonzalez-Bellido PT, Wardill TJ, Juusola M, (2011), Compound eyes and retinal information processing in miniature dipteran species match their specific ecological demands, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 108(10):4224-9

Gonzalez-Bellido PT, Wardill TJ, Kostyleva R, Meinertzhagen IA, Juusola M, (2009), Overexpressing temperature-sensitive dynamin decelerates phototransduction and bundles microtubules in Drosophila photoreceptors, J Neurosci, 29(45):14199-210

Nikolaev A, Zheng L, Wardill TJ, O'Kane CJ, de Polavieja GG, Juusola M, (2009), Network adaptation improves temporal representation of naturalistic stimuli in Drosophila eye: II mechanisms, PLoS One, 4(1):e4306

Zheng L, Nikolaev A, Wardill TJ, O'Kane CJ, de Polavieja GG, Juusola M, (2009), Network adaptation improves temporal representation of naturalistic stimuli in Drosophila eye: I dynamics, PLoS One, 4(1):e4307

Above: Female killer fly attacking a fruit fly in the wild. We were testing which natural prey and how far they would attack them. These flies are only 4 mm long, and their entire attack flight lasts ~ 400ms, hence the reason for the high speed videos.


Above: Killer fly going after a bead. The video was taken in the lab, when we were testing the flies with different bead speeds.