A map of sensilla and neurons in the taste system of drosophila larvae

J Comp Neurol. 2017 Dec 15;525(18):3865-3889. doi: 10.1002/cne.24308. Epub 2017 Sep 11.


In Drosophila melanogaster larvae, the prime site of external taste reception is the terminal organ (TO). Though investigation on the TO's implications in taste perception has been expanding rapidly, the sensilla of the TO have been essentially unexplored. In this study, we performed a systematic anatomical and molecular analysis of the TO. We precisely define morphological types of TO sensilla taking advantage of volume electron microscopy and 3D image analysis. We corroborate the presence of five external types of sensilla: papilla, pit, spot, knob, and modified papilla. Detailed 3D analysis of their structural organization allowed a finer discrimination into subtypes. We classify three subtypes of papilla and pit sensilla, respectively, and two subtypes of knob sensilla. Further, we determine the repertoire of receptor genes for each sensillum by analyzing GAL4 driver lines of Ir, Gr, Ppk, and Trp receptor genes. We construct a map of the TO, in which the receptor genes are mapped to neurons of individual sensilla. While modified papillum and spot sensilla are not labeled by any GAL4 driver, neurons of the pit, papilla, and knob type are labeled by partially overlapping but different subsets of GAL4 driver lines of the Ir, Gr, and Ppk gene family. The results suggest that pit, papilla and knob sensilla act in contact chemosensation. However, they likely do these employing different stimulus transduction mechanisms to sense the diverse chemicals of their environment.

Keywords: 3D morphology; GAL4; RRID: AB_10013483; RRID: AB_221570; RRID: AB_2567027; RRID: BDSC_41730; RRID: BDSC_46355; RRID: BDSC_5137; RRID: BDSC_57624; RRID: BDSC_60691; chemosensation; drosophila; focused ion beam; sensilla; taste receptor gene.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic / genetics
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic / metabolism
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Larva / metabolism
  • Larva / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Sensilla / cytology*
  • Sensilla / diagnostic imaging
  • Sensilla / embryology
  • Sensilla / growth & development
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / ultrastructure
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic
  • CD68 antigen, human
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • GAL4 protein, Drosophila
  • Transcription Factors
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins