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2 Janelia Publications

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    12/02/20 | Social hierarchy is established and maintained with distinct acts of aggression in male Drosophila melanogaster.
    Simon JC, Heberlein U
    Journal of Experimental Biology. 2020 Dec 02:. doi: 10.1242/jeb.232439

    Social interactions pivot on an animal's experiences, internal states, and feedback from others. This complexity drives the need for precise descriptions of behavior to dissect the fine detail of its genetic and neural circuit bases. In laboratory assays, male reliably exhibit aggression, and its extent is generally measured by scoring lunges, a feature of aggression in which one male quickly thrusts onto his opponent. Here, we introduce an explicit approach to identify both the onset and reversals in hierarchical status between opponents and observe that distinct aggressive acts reproducibly precede, concur, or follow the establishment of dominance. We find that lunges are insufficient for establishing dominance. Rather, lunges appear to reflect the dominant state of a male and help in maintaining his social status. Lastly, we characterize the recurring and escalating structure of aggression that emerges through subsequent reversals in dominance. Collectively, this work provides a framework for studying the complexity of agonistic interactions in male flies enabling its neurogenetic basis to be understood with precision.

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    02/17/20 | Behavioral features of motivated response to alcohol in Drosophila.
    Catalano JL, Mei N, Azanchi R, Song S, Blackwater T, Heberlein U, Kaun KR
    bioRxiv. 2020 Feb 17:

    Animals avoid predators and find the best food and mates by learning from the consequences of their behavior. However, reinforcers are not always uniquely appetitive or aversive but can have complex properties. Most intoxicating substances fall within this category; provoking aversive sensory and physiological reactions while simultaneously inducing overwhelming appetitive properties. Here we describe the subtle behavioral features associated with continued seeking for alcohol despite aversive consequences. We developed an automated runway apparatus to measure how Drosophila respond to consecutive exposures of a volatilized substance. Behavior within this Behavioral Expression of Ethanol Reinforcement Runway (BEER Run) demonstrated a defined shift from aversive to appetitive responses to volatilized ethanol. Behavioral metrics attained by combining computer vision and machine learning methods, reveal that a subset of 9 classified behaviors and component behavioral features associate with this shift. We propose this combination of 9 be

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