Drosophila mushroom bodies integrate hunger and satiety signals to control innate food-seeking behavior

Elife. 2018 Mar 16:7:e35264. doi: 10.7554/eLife.35264.


The fruit fly can evaluate its energy state and decide whether to pursue food-related cues. Here, we reveal that the mushroom body (MB) integrates hunger and satiety signals to control food-seeking behavior. We have discovered five pathways in the MB essential for hungry flies to locate and approach food. Blocking the MB-intrinsic Kenyon cells (KCs) and the MB output neurons (MBONs) in these pathways impairs food-seeking behavior. Starvation bi-directionally modulates MBON responses to a food odor, suggesting that hunger and satiety controls occur at the KC-to-MBON synapses. These controls are mediated by six types of dopaminergic neurons (DANs). By manipulating these DANs, we could inhibit food-seeking behavior in hungry flies or promote food seeking in fed flies. Finally, we show that the DANs potentially receive multiple inputs of hunger and satiety signals. This work demonstrates an information-rich central circuit in the fly brain that controls hunger-driven food-seeking behavior.

Keywords: D. melanogaster; dopaminergic neurons; food-seeking behavior; hunger; mushroom bodies; neural circuits; neuroscience; olfaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / physiology
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Food
  • Gene Expression
  • Hunger / physiology*
  • Instinct
  • Mushroom Bodies / metabolism
  • Mushroom Bodies / physiology*
  • Satiety Response / physiology*
  • Starvation


  • Drosophila Proteins

Grants and funding

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.