Odorant Responses and Courtship Behaviors Influenced by at4 Neurons in Drosophila

PLoS One. 2016 Sep 12;11(9):e0162761. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162761. eCollection 2016.

Abstract

In insects, pheromones function as triggers to elicit complex behavior programs, such as courtship and mating behavior. In most species, the neurons tuned to pheromones are localized in a specific subset of olfactory sensilla located on the antenna called trichoid sensilla. In Drosophila there are two classes of trichoid sensilla, at1 sensilla that contain the dendrites of a single neuron that is specifically tuned to the male-specific pheromone 11-cis vaccenyl acetate (cVA), and at4 sensilla that contain three neurons with relatively poorly defined chemical specificity and function. Using a combination of odorant receptor mutant analysis, single sensillum electrophysiology and optogenetics, we have examined the chemical tuning and behavioral consequences of the three at4 olfactory neuron classes. Our results indicate that one class, Or65abc neurons, are unresponsive to cVA pheromone, and function to inhibit courtship behaviors in response to an unknown ligand, while the other two neuron classes, Or88a and Or47b neurons, are sensitive to a diverse array of fly and non-fly odors, and activation of these neurons has little direct impact on courtship behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Odorants*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*