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Carsten Duch

Molecular Basis of Brain Ageing

My group uses Drosophila as a model to investigate the biology of normal brain ageing. Specifically, we work to identify the molecular players and neural substrates that underlie age-related decline in motor performance. We found that the climbing speed of healthy, middle-aged flies is a predictor of life expectancy. Using transcriptomics and by manipulating expression of candidate factors in the brain, we now aim to identify the molecular causes of age-related motor decline in collaboration with the Gerber group (UMC/JGU).

In our second line of research, we identify cellular and synaptic correlates with age-related motor decline using the Drosophila escape circuit. We found that loss of escape behaviour is caused by differential circuit vulnerability, with the plastic circuit components being vulnerable while the hard-wired ones are not. By scrutinising specific features of vulnerable synapses, we expect to identify the cellular causes of motor ageing.

Research website

Positions held

  • Since 2012: Professor (W2), Developmental Neurobiology, JGU Mainz
  • 2010 - 2012: Associate Professor (tenured), Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, US
  • 2006 - 2012: Associate Professor (tenure-track), Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, US
  • 2001 - 2006: Emmy Noether Junior Group Leader, Free University of Berlin
  • 1999 - 2000: Postdoc, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, US


  • 1998: PhD (Dr rer. nat), Neurobiology, Free University of Berlin, Germany
  • 1995: Diploma in Biology, Free University of Berlin, Germany

Selected publications by Carsten Duch

Krick N, Ryglewski S, Pichler A, Bikbaev A, Götz T, Kobler O, Heine M, Thomas U and Duch C (2021) Separation of presynaptic CaV2 and CaV1 channel function in synaptic vesicle exo- and endocytosis by the membrane anchored Ca 2+ pump PMCA. PNAS, 118:e2106621118 Link

Court R, Namiki S, Armstrong JD, Börner J, Card G, Costa M, Dickinson M, Duch C, ... and Shepherd D (2020) A systematic nomenclature for the Drosophila ventral nerve cord. Neuron, 107:1071–1079 Link

Schützler N, Girwert C, Hügli I, Mohana G, Roignant JY, Ryglewski S and Duch C (2019) Tyramine action on motoneuron excitability and adaptable tyramine/octopamine ratios adjust Drosophila locomotion to nutritional state. PNAS, 116:3805–3810 Link

Ryglewski S, Vonhoff F, Scheckel K and Duch C (2017) Intra-neuronal competition for synaptic partners conserves the amount of dendritic building material. Neuron, 93:632–645 Link

Ryglewski S, Kadas D, Hutchinson KM, Schuetzler N, Vonhoff F and Duch C (2014) Dendrites are dispensable for basic motoneuron function but essential for fine tuning of behavior. PNAS, 111:18049–54 Link