The organization of the chemosensory system in Drosophila melanogaster: a review

Cell Tissue Res. 1994 Jan;275(1):3-26. doi: 10.1007/BF00305372.


This review surveys the organization of the olfactory and gustatory systems in the imago and in the larva of Drosophila melanogaster, both at the sensory and the central level. Olfactory epithelia of the adult are located primarily on the third antennal segment (funiculus) and on the maxillary palps. About 200 basiconic (BS), 150 trichoid (TS) and 60 coeloconic sensilla (CS) cover the surface of the funiculus, and an additional 60 BS are located on the maxillary palps. Males possess about 30% more TS but 20% fewer BS than females. All these sensilla are multineuronal; they may be purely olfactory or multimodal with an olfactory component. Antennal and maxillary afferents converge onto approximately 35 glomeruli within the antennal lobe. These projections obey precise rules: individual fibers are glomerulus-specific, and different types of sensilla are associated with particular subsets of glomeruli. Possible functions of antennal glomeruli are discussed. In contrast to olfactory sensilla, gustatory sensilla of the imago are located at many sites, including the labellum, the pharynx, the legs, the wing margin and the female genitalia. Each of these sensory sites has its own central target. Taste sensilla are usually composed of one mechano- and three chemosensory neurons. Individual chemosensory neurons within a sensillum respond to distinct subsets of molecules and project into different central target regions. The chemosensory system of the larva is much simpler and consists essentially of three major sensillar complexes on the cephalic lobe, the dorsal, terminal and ventral organs, and a series of pharyngeal sensilla.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / ultrastructure
  • Drosophila melanogaster / anatomy & histology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Genes, Insect
  • Larva
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Sense Organs / anatomy & histology
  • Sense Organs / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Taste / physiology*