Distinct subpopulations of mechanosensory chordotonal organ neurons elicit grooming of the fruit fly antennae. uri icon


  • Diverse mechanosensory neurons detect different mechanical forces that can impact animal behavior. Yet our understanding of the anatomical and physiological diversity of these neurons and the behaviors that they influence is limited. We previously discovered that grooming of the Drosophila melanogaster antennae is elicited by an antennal mechanosensory chordotonal organ, the Johnston's organ (JO) (Hampel et al., 2015). Here, we describe anatomically and physiologically distinct JO mechanosensory neuron subpopulations that each elicit antennal grooming. We show that the subpopulations project to different, discrete zones in the brain and differ in their responses to mechanical stimulation of the antennae. Although activation of each subpopulation elicits antennal grooming, distinct subpopulations also elicit the additional behaviors of wing flapping or backward locomotion. Our results provide a comprehensive description of the diversity of mechanosensory neurons in the JO, and reveal that distinct JO subpopulations can elicit both common and distinct behavioral responses.

publication date

  • October 26, 2020

published in