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Nat Commun. 2018 Mar 28;9(1):1260. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03520-5.

Dedicated photoreceptor pathways in Drosophila larvae mediate navigation by processing either spatial or temporal cues.

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Department of Biology, University of Fribourg, 1700, Fribourg, Switzerland.
Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, 20147, VA, USA.
Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, Cambridge, UK.
Department of Physics and Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, 10003, NY, USA.
Department of Physics and Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, 02138, MA, USA.
Department of Biology, University of Fribourg, 1700, Fribourg, Switzerland.


To integrate changing environmental cues with high spatial and temporal resolution is critical for animals to orient themselves. Drosophila larvae show an effective motor program to navigate away from light sources. How the larval visual circuit processes light stimuli to control navigational decision remains unknown. The larval visual system is composed of two sensory input channels, Rhodopsin5 (Rh5) and Rhodopsin6 (Rh6) expressing photoreceptors (PRs). We here characterize how spatial and temporal information are used to control navigation. Rh6-PRs are required to perceive temporal changes of light intensity during head casts, while Rh5-PRs are required to control behaviors that allow navigation in response to spatial cues. We characterize how distinct behaviors are modulated and identify parallel acting and converging features of the visual circuit. Functional features of the larval visual circuit highlight the principle of how early in a sensory circuit distinct behaviors may be computed by partly overlapping sensory pathways.

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