Insects such as the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, rely on contact chemosensation to detect nutrient-rich foods, to avoid consuming toxic chemicals, and to select mates and hospitable zones to deposit eggs. Flies sense tastants and nonvolatile pheromones through gustatory bristles and pegs distributed on multiple body parts including the proboscis, wing margins, legs, and ovipositor. The sensilla house gustatory receptor neurons, which express members of the family of 68 gustatory receptors (GRs). In contrast to mammalian chemosensation or Drosophila olfaction, which are initiated by receptors composed of dimers of one or two receptor types, the functional Drosophila GRs may include three or more subunits. Several GRs appear to be expressed in multiple cell types that are not associated with contact chemosensation raising the possibility that these proteins may have roles that extend beyond the detection of tastants and pheromones.
ASJC Scopus subject areas