Professor Malcolm Burrows

Malcolm Burrows

University position


Professor Malcolm Burrows is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Department of Zoology

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Research Themes

Systems and Computational Neuroscience

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


I work on the properties of neurons and the circuits they form to understand how they control behaviour.

1. Motor control. How do nonspiking local interneurons organise motor neurons to generate limb movements? How do spiking interneurons process the resulting proprioceptive signals during movement and signalling by other sensory neurons.

2. Phenotypic plasticity. Locusts exist in two distinct forms; a solitary phase in which they live independently and a gregarious swarming phase. How does the nervous system control the transition from one phase to another?. What changes occur in the properties of individual neurons and of neurochemicals in the brain?

3. Fast movements. Jumping is one of the fastest and most powerful movements. The actions of circuits of identified neurons, the kinematics of the movements and the mechanics of joints and muscles reveal the mechanisms required to generate these movements.

Research Focus


motor control

identified neurons

non-spiking interneurons



Clinical conditions

No direct clinical relevance


Behavioural analysis

Computational modelling

Confocal microscopy

High speed imaging of movements



Swidbert Ott

Steve Rogers


Peter Braunig Web:

Hannelore Hoch Web:

Jeremy Niven Web:

Mike Picker Web:

Steve Simpson Web:

Associated News Items



    Burrows M (2014), “Jumping mechanisms in flatid planthoppers (Hemiptera, Flatidae).” J Exp Biol 217(Pt 14):2590-600 Details

    Burrows M (2014), “Jumping mechanisms in dictyopharid planthoppers (Hemiptera, Dicytyopharidae).” J Exp Biol 217(Pt 3):402-13 Details

    Burrows M, Dorosenko M (2014), “Rapid swimming and escape movements in the aquatic larvae and pupae of the phantom midge Chaoborus crystallinus.” J Exp Biol 217(Pt 14):2468-79 Details

    Burrows M, Meinertzhagen IA, Bräunig P (2014), “Slowly contracting muscles power the rapid jumping of planthopper insects (Hemiptera, Issidae).” Cell Tissue Res 355(1):213-22 Details

    Rogers SM, Cullen DA, Anstey ML, Burrows M, Despland E, Dodgson T, Matheson T, Ott SR, Stettin K, Sword GA, Simpson SJ (2014), “Rapid behavioural gregarization in the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria entails synchronous changes in both activity and attraction to conspecifics.” J Insect Physiol 65:9-26 Details


    Burrows M (2013), “Jumping mechanisms in gum treehopper insects (Hemiptera, Eurymelinae).” J Exp Biol 216(Pt 14):2682-90 Details

    Burrows M (2013), “Jumping from the surface of water by the long-legged fly Hydrophorus (Diptera, Dolichopodidae).” J Exp Biol 216(Pt 11):1973-81 Details

    Burrows M (2013), “Jumping mechanisms of treehopper insects (Hemiptera, Auchenorrhyncha, Membracidae).” J Exp Biol 216(Pt 5):788-99 Details

    Burrows M, Sutton G (2013), “Interacting gears synchronize propulsive leg movements in a jumping insect.” Science 341(6151):1254-6 Details


    Bayley TG, Sutton GP, Burrows M (2012), “A buckling region in locust hindlegs contains resilin and absorbs energy when jumping or kicking goes wrong.” J Exp Biol 215(Pt 7):1151-61 Details

    Burrows M (2012), “Jumping mechanisms in jumping plant lice (Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha, Psyllidae).” J Exp Biol 215(Pt 20):3612-21 Details

    Burrows M, Sutton GP (2012), “Locusts use a composite of resilin and hard cuticle as an energy store for jumping and kicking.” J Exp Biol 215(Pt 19):3501-12 Details


    Burrows M (2011), “Jumping mechanisms and performance of snow fleas (Mecoptera, Boreidae).” J Exp Biol 214(Pt 14):2362-74 Details

    Burrows M, Borycz JA, Shaw SR, Elvin CM, Meinertzhagen IA (2011), “Antibody labelling of resilin in energy stores for jumping in plant sucking insects.” PLoS One 6(12):e28456 Details

    Burrows M, Rogers SM, Ott SR (2011), “Epigenetic remodelling of brain, body and behaviour during phase change in locusts.” Neural Syst Circuits 1(1):11 Details

    Sutton GP, Burrows M (2011), “Biomechanics of jumping in the flea.” J Exp Biol 214(Pt 5):836-47 Details


    Blackburn LM, Ott SR, Matheson T, Burrows M, Rogers SM (2010), “Motor neurone responses during a postural reflex in solitarious and gregarious desert locusts.” J Insect Physiol 56(8):902-10 Details

    Burrows M (2010), “Energy storage and synchronisation of hind leg movements during jumping in planthopper insects (Hemiptera, Issidae).” J Exp Biol 213(3):469-78 Details

    Burrows M, Bräunig P (2010), “Actions of motor neurons and leg muscles in jumping by planthopper insects (hemiptera, issidae).” J Comp Neurol 518(8):1349-69 Details

    Burrows M, Picker MD (2010), “Jumping mechanisms and performance of pygmy mole crickets (Orthoptera, Tridactylidae).” J Exp Biol 213(Pt 14):2386-98 Details

    Rogers SM, Harston GW, Kilburn-Toppin F, Matheson T, Burrows M, Gabbiani F, Krapp HG (2010), “Spatiotemporal receptive field properties of a looming-sensitive neuron in solitarious and gregarious phases of the desert locust.” J Neurophysiol 103(2):779-92 Details

    Sutton GP, Burrows M (2010), “The mechanics of azimuth control in jumping by froghopper insects.” J Exp Biol 213(Pt 9):1406-16 Details


    Burrows M (2009), “How fleas jump.” J Exp Biol 212(18):2881-3 Details

    Burrows M (2009), “Jumping performance of planthoppers (Hemiptera, Issidae).” J Exp Biol 212(17):2844-55 Details

    Burrows M (2009), “A single muscle moves a crustacean limb joint rhythmically by acting against a spring containing resilin.” BMC Biol 7:27 Details

    Burrows M (2009), “Jumping strategies and performance in shore bugs (Hemiptera, Heteroptera, Saldidae).” J Exp Biol 212(Pt 1):106-15 Details


    Burrows M (2008), “Jumping in a wingless stick insect, Timema chumash (Phasmatodea, Timematodea, Timematidae).” J Exp Biol 211(Pt 7):1021-8 Details

    Burrows M, Shaw SR, Sutton GP (2008), “Resilin and chitinous cuticle form a composite structure for energy storage in jumping by froghopper insects.” BMC Biol 6:41 Details

    Burrows M, Sutton GP (2008), “The effect of leg length on jumping performance of short- and long-legged leafhopper insects.” J Exp Biol 211(Pt 8):1317-25 Details

    Sutton GP, Burrows M (2008), “The mechanics of elevation control in locust jumping.” J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol 194(6):557-63 Details


    Burrows M (2007), “Anatomy of the hind legs and actions of their muscles during jumping in leafhopper insects.” J Exp Biol 210(Pt 20):3590-600 Details

    Burrows M (2007), “Kinematics of jumping in leafhopper insects (Hemiptera, Auchenorrhyncha, Cicadellidae).” J Exp Biol 210(Pt 20):3579-89 Details

    Burrows M (2007), “Neural control and coordination of jumping in froghopper insects.” J Neurophysiol 97(1):320-30 Details

    Burrows M, Hartung V, Hoch H (2007), “Jumping behaviour in a Gondwanan relict insect (Hemiptera: Coleorrhyncha: Peloridiidae).” J Exp Biol 210(Pt 18):3311-8 Details

    Rogers SM, Krapp HG, Burrows M, Matheson T (2007), “Compensatory plasticity at an identified synapse tunes a visuomotor pathway.” J Neurosci 27(17):4621-33 Details


    Burrows M (2006), “Morphology and action of the hind leg joints controlling jumping in froghopper insects.” J Exp Biol 209(Pt 23):4622-37 Details

    Burrows M (2006), “Jumping performance of froghopper insects.” J Exp Biol 209(Pt 23):4607-21 Details


    Rogers SM, Matheson T, Sasaki K, Kendrick K, Simpson SJ, Burrows M (2004), “Substantial changes in central nervous system neurotransmitters and neuromodulators accompany phase change in the locust.” J Exp Biol 207(Pt 20):3603-17 Details


    Bevan S, Burrows M (2003), “Localisation of Even-skipped in the mature CNS of the locust, Schistocerca gregaria.” Cell Tissue Res 313(2):237-44 Details

    Burrows M (2003), “Biomechanics: froghopper insects leap to new heights.” Nature 424(6948):509 Details

    Burrows M, Morris O (2003), “Jumping and kicking in bush crickets.” J Exp Biol 206(Pt 6):1035-49 Details

    Niven JE, Burrows M (2003), “Spike width reduction modifies the dynamics of short-term depression at a central synapse in the locust.” J Neurosci 23(20):7461-9 Details

    Rogers SM, Matheson T, Despland E, Dodgson T, Burrows M, Simpson SJ (2003), “Mechanosensory-induced behavioural gregarization in the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria.” J Exp Biol 206(Pt 22):3991-4002 Details

    Sasaki K, Burrows M (2003), “Proprioceptors monitoring forces in a locust hind leg during kicking form negative feedback loops with flexor tibiae motor neurons.” J Exp Biol 206(Pt 4):759-69 Details