GSBS Student Publications

Title

A single pair of interneurons commands the Drosophila feeding motor program

Student Author(s)

Thomas Flood

GSBS Program

Neuroscience

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurobiology; Motojiro Yoshihara Lab; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Neuroscience Program; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, MD/PhD Program

Date

7-4-2013

Document Type

Article

Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Brain; Calcium Signaling; Carbohydrates; Cues; Decision Making; Drosophila melanogaster; Feeding Behavior; Female; Food; Food Deprivation; Interneurons; Male; Models, Neurological; Movement; Pharynx; Psychomotor Performance; Reflex; Temperature

Disciplines

Behavioral Neurobiology | Developmental Neuroscience

Abstract

Many feeding behaviours are the result of stereotyped, organized sequences of motor patterns. These patterns have been the subject of neuroethological studies, such as electrophysiological characterization of neurons governing prey capture in toads. However, technical limitations have prevented detailed study of the functional role of these neurons, a common problem for vertebrate organisms. Complexities involved in studies of whole-animal behaviour can be resolved in Drosophila, in which remote activation of brain cells by genetic means enables us to examine the nervous system in freely moving animals to identify neurons that govern a specific behaviour, and then to repeatedly target and manipulate these neurons to characterize their function. Here we show neurons that generate the feeding motor program in Drosophila. We carried out an unbiased screen using remote neuronal activation and identified a critical pair of brain cells that induces the entire feeding sequence when activated. These 'feeding neurons' (here abbreviated to Fdg neurons for brevity) are also essential for normal feeding as their suppression or ablation eliminates sugar-induced feeding behaviour. Activation of a single Fdg neuron induces asymmetric feeding behaviour and ablation of a single Fdg neuron distorts the sugar-induced feeding behaviour to become asymmetric, indicating the direct role of these neurons in shaping motor-program execution. Furthermore, recording neuronal activity and calcium imaging simultaneously during feeding behaviour reveals that the Fdg neurons respond to food presentation, but only in starved flies. Our results demonstrate that Fdg neurons operate firmly within the sensorimotor watershed, downstream of sensory and metabolic cues and at the top of the feeding motor hierarchy, to execute the decision to feed.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: Nature. 2013 Jul 4;499(7456):83-7. doi: 10.1038/nature12208. Epub 2013 Jun 9. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Keywords

Synaptic plasticity, Classical conditioning, Neurophysiology, Animal behaviour

Journal Title

Nature

PubMed ID

23748445