Faculté des sciences

Complex behavioural changes after odour exposure in Drosophila larvae

Colomb, Julien ; Grillenzoni, Nicola ; Stocker, Reinhard F. ; Ramaekers, Ariane

A variety of odorants attract Drosophila larvae, although this behaviour can be modulated by experience. For instance, larvae pre-exposed to an attractive odorant may subsequently display less attraction towards the same compound. In previous reports, this phenomenon has been interpreted as a drop in olfactory sensitivity, caused by sensory adaptation. We tried to elucidate the basis of... Plus

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    Summary
    A variety of odorants attract Drosophila larvae, although this behaviour can be modulated by experience. For instance, larvae pre-exposed to an attractive odorant may subsequently display less attraction towards the same compound. In previous reports, this phenomenon has been interpreted as a drop in olfactory sensitivity, caused by sensory adaptation. We tried to elucidate the basis of this behavioural modification by pre-exposing larvae to various odours. After multiple pre-exposure cycles larvae were repulsed by initially attractive odours, and pre-exposure did not change the threshold concentration driving a behavioural response. We therefore believe that sensitivity to the odorant was only slightly affected in our protocol. Our results thus do not support the previous interpretation and rather suggest that olfactory pre-exposure induces a change in the hedonic value of the odour. Although we did not succeed in elucidating the exact nature of the underlying mechanism, we can reject an association of the odour with the absence of food as an interpretation of the observed behavioural changes; this is because addition of food did not abolish the repulsion to the pre-exposed odour. In addition to ruling out previous interpretations of odour pre-exposure effects, this study stresses the complexity of Drosophila larval behaviour.