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Annu Rev Entomol. 2017 Jan 31;62:35-52. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-031616-035500. Epub 2016 Oct 28.

Neuropeptides as Regulators of Behavior in Insects.

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Functional Genomics and Proteomics Group, Department of Biology, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium; email: , ,


Neuropeptides are by far the largest and most diverse group of signaling molecules in multicellular organisms. They are ancient molecules important in regulating a multitude of processes. Their small proteinaceous character allowed them to evolve and radiate quickly into numerous different molecules. On average, hundreds of distinct neuropeptides are present in animals, sometimes with unique classes that do not occur in distantly related species. Acting as neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, hormones, or growth factors, they are extremely diverse and are involved in controlling growth, development, ecdysis, digestion, diuresis, and many more physiological processes. Neuropeptides are also crucial in regulating myriad behavioral actions associated with feeding, courtship, sleep, learning and memory, stress, addiction, and social interactions. In general, behavior ensures that an organism can survive in its environment and is defined as any action that can change an organism's relationship to its surroundings. Even though the mode of action of neuropeptides in insects has been vigorously studied, relatively little is known about most neuropeptides and only a few model insects have been investigated. Here, we provide an overview of the roles neuropeptides play in insect behavior. We conclude that multiple neuropeptides need to work in concert to coordinate certain behaviors. Additionally, most neuropeptides studied to date have more than a single function.


Drosophila; G protein–coupled receptor; behavior; insect; neuronal circuit; neuropeptide

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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