Motor control in a Drosophila taste circuit

Neuron. 2009 Feb 12;61(3):373-84. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.12.033.


Tastes elicit innate behaviors critical for directing animals to ingest nutritious substances and reject toxic compounds, but the neural basis of these behaviors is not understood. Here, we use a neural silencing screen to identify neurons required for a simple Drosophila taste behavior and characterize a neural population that controls a specific subprogram of this behavior. By silencing and activating subsets of the defined cell population, we identify the neurons involved in the taste behavior as a pair of motor neurons located in the subesophageal ganglion (SOG). The motor neurons are activated by sugar stimulation of gustatory neurons and inhibited by bitter compounds; however, experiments utilizing split-GFP detect no direct connections between the motor neurons and primary sensory neurons, indicating that further study will be necessary to elucidate the circuitry bridging these populations. Combined, these results provide a general strategy and a valuable starting point for future taste circuit analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / cytology
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Caffeine / pharmacology
  • Drosophila
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / cytology
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / physiology*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Models, Animal
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Mouth / innervation
  • Mouth / physiology
  • Muscle, Striated / innervation
  • Muscle, Striated / physiology
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / genetics
  • Reflex / genetics
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / cytology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Taste / drug effects
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Tetanus Toxin / genetics


  • Kir2.1 channel
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying
  • Tetanus Toxin
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Caffeine
  • Sucrose