Unraveling the auditory system of Drosophila

Department of Molecular Biology and Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, NJ 08544, United States. <>
Current opinion in neurobiology (Impact Factor: 6.63). 03/2010; 20(3):281-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.conb.2010.02.016
Source: PubMed


Acoustic communication in flies is based on the production and perception of courtship song. Drosophila males sing to females during the courtship ritual, while females listen for the correct species-specific song parameters before deciding to mate. While we know that song is important for mating, the neural mechanisms involved in song recognition remain mysterious. However, the last few years have seen major advances in our understanding of the auditory system of Drosophila, including delineation of the neurons involved in song production, detailed characterization of the auditory receptor organ, and mapping of auditory projections into the brain. The stage is being set to tackle the auditory system of Drosophila in much the same way as has been done for its olfactory system. This review covers recent work and discusses prospects for future research on Drosophila audition.

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    • "Females were either blinded by application of black acrylic paint over their eyes a day prior to testing, or competitive assays were run in red light. Deaf females were obtained by surgically removing aristae [36]. Removing the aristae together with the 3rd antennal segment reduces both hearing and olfaction [37]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Competition for mates is a wide-spread phenomenon affecting individual reproductive success. The ability of animals to adjust their behaviors in response to changing social environment is important and well documented. Drosophila melanogaster males compete with one another for matings with females and modify their reproductive behaviors based on prior social interactions. However, it remains to be determined how male social experience that culminates in mating with a female impacts subsequent male reproductive behaviors and mating success. Here we show that sexual experience enhances future mating success. Previously mated D. melanogaster males adjust their courtship behaviors and out-compete sexually inexperienced males for copulations. Interestingly, courtship experience alone is not sufficient in providing this competitive advantage, indicating that copulation plays a role in reinforcing this social learning. We also show that females use their sense of hearing to preferentially mate with experienced males when given a choice. Our results demonstrate the ability of previously mated males to learn from their positive sexual experiences and adjust their behaviors to gain a mating advantage. These experienced-based changes in behavior reveal strategies that animals likely use to increase their fecundity in natural competitive environments.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "The genetic basis of sound production and reception is also an area still unexplored in insect disease vectors. As a number of genetic and molecular tools derived from those developed for model species such as Drosophila melanogaster become available for blood-sucking disease vectors (Sant'Anna et al. 2008, Kokoza & Raikhel 2011), some of the neurogenetic bases of sound production and hearing might be unravelled in these medically important insects as is currently under way in Drosophila (Murthy 2010, von Philipsborn et al. 2011). Mutants of the sex determining pathway of D. melanogaster are available which disturb male-specific behaviours, including the ability to sing and mate successfully (Ryner et al. 1996) and some of these seem to have conserved roles throughout the Diptera (Meier et al. 2013 "
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    ABSTRACT: Acoustic signalling has been extensively studied in insect species, which has led to a better understanding of sexual communication, sexual selection and modes of speciation. The significance of acoustic signals for a blood-sucking insect was first reported in the XIX century by Christopher Johnston, studying the hearing organs of mosquitoes, but has received relatively little attention in other disease vectors until recently. Acoustic signals are often associated with mating behaviour and sexual selection and changes in signalling can lead to rapid evolutionary divergence and may ultimately contribute to the process of speciation. Songs can also have implications for the success of novel methods of disease control such as determining the mating competitiveness of modified insects used for mass-release control programs. Species-specific sound "signatures" may help identify incipient species within species complexes that may be of epidemiological significance, e.g. of higher vectorial capacity, thereby enabling the application of more focussed control measures to optimise the reduction of pathogen transmission. Although the study of acoustic communication in insect vectors has been relatively limited, this review of research demonstrates their value as models for understanding both the functional and evolutionary significance of acoustic communication in insects.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
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    • "exhibited upwind runs) to the headspace of males (Fig. 5b) but not to the headspace of females (Fig. 5c and d). So far sex discrimination experiments in Drosophila always included multisensory information like visual, tactile, auditory, gustatory and olfactory cues1202627. Our results show that olfactory cues alone are sufficient for female flies to identify potential mating partners. "
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    ABSTRACT: How can odor-guided behavior of numerous individual Drosophila be assessed automatically with high temporal resolution? For this purpose we introduce the automatic integrated tracking and odor-delivery system Flywalk. In fifteen aligned small wind tunnels individual flies are exposed to repeated odor pulses, well defined in concentration and timing. The flies' positions are visually tracked, which allows quantification of the odor-evoked walking behavior with high temporal resolution of up to 100 ms. As a demonstration of Flywalk we show that the flies' behavior is odorant-specific; attractive odors elicit directed upwind movements, while repellent odors evoke decreased activity, followed by downwind movements. These changes in behavior differ between sexes. Furthermore our findings show that flies can evaluate the sex of a conspecific and males can determine a female's mating status based on olfactory cues. Consequently, Flywalk allows automatic screening of individual flies for their olfactory preference and sensitivity.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Scientific Reports
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