Bill Budenberg studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge and then did his PhD research studies in insect behaviour. After graduation he was a post-doc in Nairobi researching insect pest semiochemicals (chemicals used to send signals between organisms). He then started a UK distributor of behavioural research equipment for the UK market. He is now director at Zantiks Ltd which produces and supplies equipment for behavioural studies of model organisms.
Q: Can you describe in one sentence what this project is about?
This project aims to collaborate with Aktogen, who plan to breed fruit flies in biomakespace, to test our equipment, and we would like to use this setup as a showcase for future customers.
Q: How did the idea for the project come about?
We are located at ideaSpace so that we are very close to Biomakespace. The project we are working on at the moment is part of the on-going development of the equipment and services we offer.
Q: Can you explain the project in more detail?
We would like to use Biomakespace to bring in organisms to test our equipment further such as testing the tracking of individuals, and developing algorithms for tracking multiple animals in the same chambers. We collaborate with Aktogen, who will provide us with fruit flies for our tests. In addition to this, we want to develop learning and memory tests for fruit flies.
Video showing fruit flies in a Y-maze to study. Studies of flies in Y-mazes can help scientists understand individual behaviour and its genetic and environmental causes. Y-mazes are currently used in many rodent studies for memory assessment and for profiling.
Q: Do you currently have all the experience/skills you need to start (and complete) this project or are you planning to learn these through Biomakespace?
I think we have all the required skills with us already but that doesn’t mean we won’t learn things! We will certainly learn by collaborating with Aktogen on Drosophila (fruit fly) research. Moreover, once this project has picked up speed, we might be able to offer a student a project to work on to help us establish learning and memory tests for flies.
Q: Are you looking for others to join you on this project?
We are already collaborating with Aktogen on this. However, there may be opportunities for people interested in developing new assays for fruit flies, or Daphnia (water flea) or similar small organisms.
Q: I know this is a tough question, but what is your current timeline?
I always want to complete things faster than I end up doing them! Aktogen is currently waiting for equipment and then they can start breeding the flies. When that’s up and running, we will be able to get started properly. So we don’t have a particular timeline in mind at the moment.
Q: What do you expect from completing this project?
Validating easy to use and reliable learning and memory assays for fruit flies will enable us to sell our equipment to many labs worldwide. Fruit flies breed quicker, are cheaper to use, and are easier genetic models than, for instance, mice.
Q: Could you provide some resources to more information on the topic of your project?
The company website provides some information on behavioural studies.
If anyone in Biomakespace wants to use our equipment, they are more than welcome to talk to us. We are interested in the setup being used, so please do get in touch!