We have studied the distribution of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), histamine, octopamine and serotonin in the larval chemosensory system of Drosophila melanogaster. Colocalization at the confocal level with green fluorescent protein (GFP) or Tau-GFP reporters, expressed in selected P[GAL4] enhancer trap lines, was used to identify the cells making up these neurotransmitters. As in the adult fly, larval olfactory afferents project into the (larval) antennal lobe (LAL), where they synapse onto local interneurons and projection neurons, whereas gustatory afferents terminate essentially in the tritocerebral-subesophageal (TR-SOG) region. We demonstrate that the neuropils of the LAL and the TR-SOG are immunoreactive to ChAT and GABA. In addition, serotonin- and octopamine-immunoreactive fibers are present in the LAL. ChAT immunostaining is localized in subsets of olfactory and gustatory afferents and in many of the projection neurons. In contrast, GABA is expressed in most, and perhaps all, of the local interneurons. Serotonin immunoreactivity in the LAL derives from a single neuron that is situated close to the LAL and projects to additional neuropil regions. Taken together, these findings resemble the situation in the adult fly. Hence, given the highly reduced numbers of odorant receptor neurons in the larva, as shown in a previous study (Python and Stocker  J. Comp. Neurol. 445:374-387), the larval system may become an attractive model system for studying the roles of neurotransmitters in olfactory processing.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.