Neuromodulation and Strategic Action Choice in Drosophila Aggression

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2017 Jul 25;40:51-75. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-072116-031240. Epub 2017 Mar 24.


In this review, I discuss current knowledge and outstanding questions on the neuromodulators that influence aggressive behavior of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. I first present evidence that Drosophila exchange information during an agonistic interaction and choose appropriate actions based on this information. I then discuss the influence of several biogenic amines and neuropeptides on aggressive behavior. One striking characteristic of neuromodulation is that it can configure a neural circuit dynamically, enabling one circuit to generate multiple outcomes. I suggest a consensus effect of each neuromodulatory molecule on Drosophila aggression, as well as effects of receptor proteins where relevant data are available. Lastly, I consider neuromodulation in the context of strategic action choices during agonistic interactions. Genetic components of neuromodulatory systems are highly conserved across animals, suggesting that molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling Drosophila aggression can shed light on neural principles governing action choice during social interactions.

Keywords: action choice; aggression; game theory; monoamines; neuropeptides.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents