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Behav Genet. 2001 Jan;31(1):17-27.

The genetic architecture of odor-guided behavior in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Zoology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695, USA.


The avoidance response to repellent odorants in Drosophila melanogaster, a response essential for survival, provides an advantageous model for studies on the genetic architecture of behavior. Transposon tagging in a highly inbred strain of flies in combination with a rapid and simple statistical behavioral assay enables the identification of not only large phenotypic effects, but also small aberrations from wild-type avoidance behavior. The recent completion of the sequence of the Drosophila genome facilitates the molecular characterization of transposon-tagged genes and correlation between gene expression and behavior in smell-impaired (smi) mutant lines. Quantitative genetic analyses of a collection of smi lines in a coisogenic background revealed an extensive network of epistatic interactions among genes that shape the olfactory avoidance response. The identification and functional characterization of proteins encoded by smi genes that form part of the olfactory subgenome and correlation of polymorphisms in these genes with variation in odor-guided behavior in natural populations will advance our understanding of the genetic architecture of chemosensory behavior.

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