Dye-coupling visualizes networks of large-field motion-sensitive neurons in the fly

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2005 May;191(5):445-54. doi: 10.1007/s00359-005-0605-0. Epub 2005 Mar 18.


In the fly, visually guided course control is accomplished by a set of 60 large-field motion-sensitive neurons in each brain hemisphere. These neurons have been shown to receive retinotopic motion information from local motion detectors on their dendrites. In addition, recent experiments revealed extensive coupling between the large-field neurons through electrical synapses. These two processes together give rise to their broad and elaborate receptive fields significantly surpassing the extent of their dendritic fields. Here, we demonstrate that the electrical connections between different large-field neurons can be visualized using Neurobiotin dye injection into a single one of them. When combined with a fluorescent dye which does not cross electrical synapses, the injected cell can be identified unambiguously. The Neurobiotin staining corroborates the electrical coupling postulated amongst the cells of the vertical system (VS-cells) and between cells of the horizontal system (HS-cells and CH-cells). In addition, connections between some cells are revealed that have so far not been considered as electrically coupled.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Biotin / analysis
  • Diptera / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Fluorescein / analysis
  • Movement
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*


  • neurobiotin
  • Biotin
  • Fluorescein