University of Hertfordshire

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Decoding odor quality and intensity in the Drosophila brain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Antonia Strutz
  • Jan Soelter
  • Amelie Baschwitz
  • Abu Farhan
  • Veit Grabe
  • Jürgen Rybak
  • Markus Knaden
  • Michael Schmuker
  • Bill S Hansson
  • Silke Sachse
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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere04147
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2014


To internally reflect the sensory environment, animals create neural maps encoding the external stimulus space. From that primary neural code relevant information has to be extracted for accurate navigation. We analyzed how different odor features such as hedonic valence and intensity are functionally integrated in the lateral horn (LH) of the vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster. We characterized an olfactory-processing pathway, comprised of inhibitory projection neurons (iPNs) that target the LH exclusively, at morphological, functional and behavioral levels. We demonstrate that iPNs are subdivided into two morphological groups encoding positive hedonic valence or intensity information and conveying these features into separate domains in the LH. Silencing iPNs severely diminished flies' attraction behavior. Moreover, functional imaging disclosed a LH region tuned to repulsive odors comprised exclusively of third-order neurons. We provide evidence for a feature-based map in the LH, and elucidate its role as the center for integrating behaviorally relevant olfactory information.


Copyright © 2014 Strutz et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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