Drosophila Aversive Behavior toward Erwinia carotovora carotovora Is Mediated by Bitter Neurons and Leukokinin

iScience. 2020 Jun 26;23(6):101152. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2020.101152. Epub 2020 May 12.


The phytopathogen Erwinia carotovora carotovora (Ecc) has been used successfully to decipher some of the mechanisms that regulate the interactions between Drosophila melanogaster and bacteria, mostly following forced association between the two species. How do Drosophila normally perceive and respond to the presence of Ecc is unknown. Using a fly feeding two-choice assay and video tracking, we show that Drosophila are first attracted but then repulsed by an Ecc-contaminated solution. The initial attractive phase is dependent on the olfactory Gr63a and Gαq proteins, whereas the second repulsive phase requires a functional gustatory system. Genetic manipulations and calcium imaging indicate that bitter neurons and gustatory receptors Gr66a and Gr33a are needed for the aversive phase and that the neuropeptide leukokinin is also involved. We also demonstrate that these behaviors are independent of the NF-κB cascade that controls some of the immune, metabolic, and behavioral responses to bacteria.

Keywords: Behavioral Neuroscience; Neuroscience; Sensory Neuroscience.