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Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 9;7:40221. doi: 10.1038/srep40221.

Free flight odor tracking in Drosophila: Effect of wing chemosensors, sex and pheromonal gene regulation.

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Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, UMR6265 CNRS, UMR1324 INRA, Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté, 6, Bd Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France.
UMR INRA/CNRS/UNS 7254, Institut Sophia Agrobiotech, 400 route des Chappes, P.O. Box 167, 06903 Sophia Antipolis, France.


The evolution of powered flight in insects had major consequences for global biodiversity and involved the acquisition of adaptive processes allowing individuals to disperse to new ecological niches. Flies use both vision and olfactory input from their antennae to guide their flight; chemosensors on fly wings have been described, but their function remains mysterious. We studied Drosophila flight in a wind tunnel. By genetically manipulating wing chemosensors, we show that these structures play an essential role in flight performance with a sex-specific effect. Pheromonal systems are also involved in Drosophila flight guidance: transgenic expression of the pheromone production and detection gene, desat1, produced low, rapid flight that was absent in control flies. Our study suggests that the sex-specific modulation of free-flight odor tracking depends on gene expression in various fly tissues including wings and pheromonal-related tissues.

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