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2 Janelia Publications

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    05/06/15 | Role of the Subesophageal Zone in Sensorimotor Control of Orientation in Drosophila Larva.
    Tastekin I, Riedl J, Schilling-Kurz V, Gomez-Marin A, Truman JW, Louis M
    Current Biology. 2015 May 6;25(11):1448-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.04.016

    Chemotaxis is a powerful paradigm to investigate how nervous systems represent and integrate changes in sensory signals to direct navigational decisions. In the Drosophila melanogaster larva, chemotaxis mainly consists of an alternation of distinct behavioral modes: runs and directed turns. During locomotion, turns are triggered by the integration of temporal changes in the intensity of the stimulus. Upon completion of a turning maneuver, the direction of motion is typically realigned toward the odor gradient. While the anatomy of the peripheral olfactory circuits and the locomotor system of the larva are reasonably well documented, the neural circuits connecting the sensory neurons to the motor neurons remain unknown. We combined a loss-of-function behavioral screen with optogenetics-based clonal gain-of-function manipulations to identify neurons that are necessary and sufficient for the initiation of reorientation maneuvers in odor gradients. Our results indicate that a small subset of neurons residing in the subesophageal zone controls the rate of transition from runs to turns-a premotor function compatible with previous observations made in other invertebrates. After having shown that this function pertains to the processing of inputs from different sensory modalities (olfaction, vision, thermosensation), we conclude that the subesophageal zone operates as a general premotor center that regulates the selection of different behavioral programs based on the integration of sensory stimuli. The present analysis paves the way for a systematic investigation of the neural computations underlying action selection in a miniature brain amenable to genetic manipulations.

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    09/16/13 | Sensorimotor structure of Drosophila larva phototaxis.
    Kane EA, Gershow M, Afonso B, Larderet I, Klein M, Carter AR, de Bivort BL, Sprecher SG, Samuel AD
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013 Sep 16;110(40):E3868-77. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1215295110

    The avoidance of light by fly larvae is a classic paradigm for sensorimotor behavior. Here, we use behavioral assays and video microscopy to quantify the sensorimotor structure of phototaxis using the Drosophila larva. Larval locomotion is composed of sequences of runs (periods of forward movement) that are interrupted by abrupt turns, during which the larva pauses and sweeps its head back and forth, probing local light information to determine the direction of the successive run. All phototactic responses are mediated by the same set of sensorimotor transformations that require temporal processing of sensory inputs. Through functional imaging and genetic inactivation of specific neurons downstream of the sensory periphery, we have begun to map these sensorimotor circuits into the larval central brain. We find that specific sensorimotor pathways that govern distinct light-evoked responses begin to segregate at the first relay after the photosensory neurons.

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