Date of Award


Document Type




First Reader

Dr. Ruth Plymale

Second Reader

Dr. Jim Taylor

Third Reader

Dr. Jeff Matocha


Lead is an environmental contaminant widely dispersed throughout the world. Exposure to lead causes neurological damage in humans and may be linked to neurodevelopmental pathologies such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, antisocial behavior, and autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) have been used to understand the behavioral, synaptic, and molecular changes that occur after developmental exposure to lead and to study ASD-associated pathology. Flies were exposed through the mother and until eclosion to either a lead-laced medium or a control corn-based medium and were isolated until the beginning for the behavioral studies. Sociability testing was done using a test tube that was divided by a mesh allowing the flies to interact using olfactory and visual clues, while avoiding direct contact. Multiple fly recordings were made using a high-throughput video system and analyzed using "Freeze Frame" software from Coulbourn Instruments. Our findings indicate that developmental exposure to lead results in does-dependent developmental delay and decreased social interaction in female flies.



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