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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008;628:102-14. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-78261-4_7.

The olfactory sensory map in Drosophila.

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Kent Institute of Medicine and Health Sciences, Medical Image Computing, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, UK.


The fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) exhibits robust odor-evoked behaviors in response to cues from diverse host plants and pheromonal cues from other flies. Understanding how the adult olfactory system supports the perception of these odorous chemicals and translates them into appropriate attraction or avoidance behaviors is an important goal in contemporary sensory neuroscience. Recent advances in genomics and molecular neurobiology have provided an unprecedented level of detail into how the adult Drosophila olfactory system is organized. Volatile odorants are sensed by two bilaterally symmetric olfactory sensory appendages, the third segment of the antenna and the maxillary palps, which respectively contain approximately 1200 and 120 olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) each. These OSNs express a divergent family of seven transmembrane domain odorant receptors (ORs) with no homology to vertebrate ORs, which determine the odor specificity of a given OSN. Drosophila was the first animal for which all OR genes were cloned, their patterns of gene expression determined and axonal projections of most OSNs elucidated. In vivo electrophysiology has been used to decode the ligand response profiles of most of the ORs, providing insight into the initial logic of olfactory coding in the fly. This chapter will review the molecular biology, neuroanatomy and function of the peripheral olfactory system of Drosophila.

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