Optogenetic control of fly optomotor responses

J Neurosci. 2013 Aug 21;33(34):13927-34. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0340-13.2013.


When confronted with a large-field stimulus rotating around the vertical body axis, flies display a following behavior called "optomotor response." As neural control elements, the large tangential horizontal system (HS) cells of the lobula plate have been prime candidates for long. Here, we applied optogenetic stimulation of HS cells to evaluate their behavioral role in Drosophila. To minimize interference of the optical activation of channelrhodopsin-2 with the visual perception of the flies, we used a bistable variant called ChR2-C128S. By applying pulses of blue and yellow light, we first demonstrate electrophysiologically that lobula plate tangential cells can be activated and deactivated repeatedly with no evident change in depolarization strength over trials. We next show that selective optogenetic activation of HS cells elicits robust yaw head movements and yaw turning responses in fixed and tethered flying flies, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / genetics
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Head Movements
  • Motion Perception
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Optogenetics*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Rhodopsin / genetics
  • Rhodopsin / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Wings, Animal / physiology


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • GAL4 protein, Drosophila
  • Transcription Factors
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Rhodopsin