Random convergence of olfactory inputs in the Drosophila mushroom body

Nature. 2013 May 2;497(7447):113-7. doi: 10.1038/nature12063. Epub 2013 Apr 24.


The mushroom body in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster is an associative brain centre that translates odour representations into learned behavioural responses. Kenyon cells, the intrinsic neurons of the mushroom body, integrate input from olfactory glomeruli to encode odours as sparse distributed patterns of neural activity. We have developed anatomic tracing techniques to identify the glomerular origin of the inputs that converge onto 200 individual Kenyon cells. Here we show that each Kenyon cell integrates input from a different and apparently random combination of glomeruli. The glomerular inputs to individual Kenyon cells show no discernible organization with respect to their odour tuning, anatomic features or developmental origins. Moreover, different classes of Kenyon cells do not seem to preferentially integrate inputs from specific combinations of glomeruli. This organization of glomerular connections to the mushroom body could allow the fly to contextualize novel sensory experiences, a feature consistent with the role of this brain centre in mediating learned olfactory associations and behaviours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthropod Antennae / anatomy & histology
  • Arthropod Antennae / innervation
  • Arthropod Antennae / physiology
  • Coloring Agents
  • Drosophila melanogaster / anatomy & histology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Mushroom Bodies / anatomy & histology
  • Mushroom Bodies / cytology
  • Mushroom Bodies / physiology*
  • Neuroanatomical Tract-Tracing Techniques
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Odorants / analysis
  • Olfactory Pathways / cytology
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Coloring Agents