Light Activation of an Innate Olfactory Avoidance Response in Drosophila

Greg S.B. Suh, Shlomo Ben-Tabou de Leon, Hiromu Tanimoto, André Fiala, Seymour Benzer, David J. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


How specific sensory stimuli evoke specific behaviors is a fundamental problem in neurobiology. In Drosophila, most odorants elicit attraction or avoidance depending on their concentration, as well as their identity [1]. Such odorants, moreover, typically activate combinations of glomeruli in the antennal lobe of the brain [2-4], complicating the dissection of the circuits translating odor recognition into behavior. Carbon dioxide (CO2), in contrast, elicits avoidance over a wide range of concentrations [5, 6] and activates only a single glomerulus, V [5]. The V glomerulus receives projections from olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) that coexpress two GPCRs, Gr21a and Gr63a, that together comprise a CO2 receptor [7-9]. These CO2-sensitive ORNs, located in the ab1 sensilla of the antenna, are called ab1c neurons [10]. Genetic silencing of ab1c neurons indicates that they are necessary for CO2-avoidance behavior [5]. Whether activation of these neurons alone is sufficient to elicit this behavior, or whether CO2 avoidance requires additional inputs (e.g., from the respiratory system), remains unclear. Here, we show that artificial stimulation of ab1c neurons with light (normally attractive to flies) elicits the avoidance behavior typical of CO2. Thus, avoidance behavior appears hardwired into the olfactory circuitry that detects CO2 in Drosophila.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-908
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2007 May 15




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