Slater G, Levy P, Chan KL, Larsen C (2015) A central neural pathway controlling odor tracking in Drosophila. J Neurosci 35: 1831-48

Chemotaxis is important for the survival of most animals. How the brain translates sensory input into motor output beyond higher olfactory processing centers is largely unknown. We describe a group of excitatory neurons, termed Odd neurons, which are important for Drosophila larval chemotaxis. Odd neurons receive synaptic input from projection neurons in the calyx of the mushroom body and project axons to the central brain. Functional imaging shows that some of the Odd neurons respond to odor. Larvae in which Odd neurons are silenced are less efficient at odor tracking than controls and sample the odor space more frequently. Larvae in which the excitability of Odd neurons is increased are better at odor intensity discrimination and odor tracking. Thus, the Odd neurons represent a distinct pathway that regulates the sensitivity of the olfactory system to odor concentrations, demonstrating that efficient chemotaxis depends on processing of odor strength downstream of higher olfactory centers.

Pubmed: 25653345