Pruning deficits of the developing Drosophila mushroom body result in mild impairment in associative odour learning and cause hyperactivity

Open Biol. 2022 Sep;12(9):220096. doi: 10.1098/rsob.220096. Epub 2022 Sep 21.


The principles of how brain circuits establish themselves during development are largely conserved across animal species. Connections made during embryonic development that are appropriate for an early life stage are frequently remodelled later in ontogeny via pruning and subsequent regrowth to generate adult-specific connectivity. The mushroom body of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a well-established model circuit for examining the cellular mechanisms underlying neurite remodelling. This central brain circuit integrates sensory information with learned and innate valences to adaptively instruct behavioural decisions. Thereby, the mushroom body organizes adaptive behaviour, such as associative learning. However, little is known about the specific aspects of behaviour that require mushroom body remodelling. Here, we used genetic interventions to prevent the intrinsic neurons of the larval mushroom body (γ-type Kenyon cells) from remodelling. We asked to what degree remodelling deficits resulted in impaired behaviour. We found that deficits caused hyperactivity and mild impairment in differential aversive olfactory learning, but not appetitive learning. Maintenance of circadian rhythm and sleep were not affected. We conclude that neurite pruning and regrowth of γ-type Kenyon cells is not required for the establishment of circuits that mediate associative odour learning per se, but it does improve distinct learning tasks.

Keywords: Drosophila melanogaster; Kenyon cells; associative learning; circadian rhythm; mushroom body; neuronal remodelling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Drosophila* / physiology
  • Learning / physiology
  • Mushroom Bodies*
  • Odorants