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Nature. 2009 May 14;459(7244):218-23. doi: 10.1038/nature07983. Epub 2009 Apr 26.

Select Drosophila glomeruli mediate innate olfactory attraction and aversion.

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Neurobiology Section, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Fruitflies show robust attraction to food odours, which usually excite several glomeruli. To understand how the representation of such odours leads to behaviour, we used genetic tools to dissect the contribution of each activated glomerulus. Apple cider vinegar triggers robust innate attraction at a relatively low concentration, which activates six glomeruli. By silencing individual glomeruli, here we show that the absence of activity in two glomeruli, DM1 and VA2, markedly reduces attraction. Conversely, when each of these two glomeruli was selectively activated, flies showed as robust an attraction to vinegar as wild-type flies. Notably, a higher concentration of vinegar excites an additional glomerulus and is less attractive to flies. We show that activation of the extra glomerulus is necessary and sufficient to mediate the behavioural switch. Together, these results indicate that individual glomeruli, rather than the entire pattern of active glomeruli, mediate innate behavioural output.

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