Comparisons between the ON- and OFF-edge motion pathways in the Drosophila brain

Elife. 2019 Jan 9:8:e40025. doi: 10.7554/eLife.40025.


Understanding the circuit mechanisms behind motion detection is a long-standing question in visual neuroscience. In Drosophila melanogaster, recently discovered synapse-level connectomes in the optic lobe, particularly in ON-pathway (T4) receptive-field circuits, in concert with physiological studies, suggest a motion model that is increasingly intricate when compared with the ubiquitous Hassenstein-Reichardt model. By contrast, our knowledge of OFF-pathway (T5) has been incomplete. Here, we present a conclusive and comprehensive connectome that, for the first time, integrates detailed connectivity information for inputs to both the T4 and T5 pathways in a single EM dataset covering the entire optic lobe. With novel reconstruction methods using automated synapse prediction suited to such a large connectome, we successfully corroborate previous findings in the T4 pathway and comprehensively identify inputs and receptive fields for T5. Although the two pathways are probably evolutionarily linked and exhibit many similarities, we uncover interesting differences and interactions that may underlie their distinct functional properties.

Keywords: D. melanogaster; connectome; electron microscopy; motion detection; neuroanatomy; neuroscience; optic lobe; visual system.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Connectome
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Homozygote
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motion Perception*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Optic Lobe, Nonmammalian / physiology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology