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Nat Neurosci. 2011 Nov 6;14(12):1534-41. doi: 10.1038/nn.2944.

Evolutionary differences in food preference rely on Gr64e, a receptor for glycerol.

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Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, University of California, Riverside, California, USA.


Very little is known about how stimuli that are typically not rich in sugars, such as beer, trigger attractive gustatory responses in Drosophila. We identified a member of the gustatory receptor family, Gr64e, as a receptor that is required for feeding preference for beer and other sources that have fermenting yeast. We found that Gr64e is required for neuronal and behavioral responses to glycerol, an abundant component of growing yeast and fermentation products. Ectopic expression of Gr64e in an olfactory neuron conferred responsiveness to glycerol. We also found that Drosophila species that are predicted to carry pseudogenes of Gr64e had reduced glycerol sensitivity. Our results provide insight into the molecular mechanisms of feeding acceptance of yeast products and raise the possibility that Gr64e contributes to specific evolutionary variations in appetitive selectivity across Drosophila species.

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