Masek P, Scott K
Limited taste discrimination in Drosophila.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 17;107(33):14833-8
Authors: Masek P, Scott K
In the gustatory systems of mammals and flies, different populations of sensory cells recognize different taste modalities, such that there are cells that respond selectively to sugars and others to bitter compounds. This organization readily allows animals to distinguish compounds of different modalities but may limit the ability to distinguish compounds within one taste modality. Here, we developed a behavioral paradigm in Drosophila melanogaster to evaluate directly the tastes that a fly distinguishes. These studies reveal that flies do not discriminate among different sugars, or among different bitter compounds, based on chemical identity. Instead, flies show a limited ability to distinguish compounds within a modality based on intensity or palatability. Taste associative learning, similar to olfactory learning, requires the mushroom bodies, suggesting fundamental similarities in brain mechanisms underlying behavioral plasticity. Overall, these studies provide insight into the discriminative capacity of the Drosophila gustatory system and the modulation of taste behavior.
PMID: 20679196 [PubMed - in process]