Olfactory Neurons and Brain Centers Directing Oviposition Decisions in Drosophila

Sonia G. Chin, Sarah E. Maguire, Paavo Huoviala, Gregory S.X.E. Jefferis, Christopher J. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The sense of smell influences many behaviors, yet how odors are represented in the brain remains unclear. A major challenge to studying olfaction is the lack of methods allowing activation of specific types of olfactory neurons in an ethologically relevant setting. To address this, we developed a genetic method in Drosophila called olfactogenetics in which a narrowly tuned odorant receptor, Or56a, is ectopically expressed in different olfactory neuron types. Stimulation with geosmin (the only known Or56a ligand) in an Or56a mutant background leads to specific activation of only target olfactory neuron types. We used this approach to identify olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) that directly guide oviposition decisions. We identify 5 OSN-types (Or71a, Or47b, Or49a, Or67b, and Or7a) that, when activated alone, suppress oviposition. Projection neurons partnering with these OSNs share a region of innervation in the lateral horn, suggesting that oviposition site selection might be encoded in this brain region. Linking olfactory neurons to discrete behaviors is challenging. To address this, Chin et al. develop a genetic method in Drosophila that uses an odor to selectively activate different olfactory neurons. From a behavioral screen, they identify olfactory neurons and brain regions that might underlie aversive egg-laying decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1667-1678
Number of pages12
JournalCell Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 7 2018


  • genetic technique
  • genetics
  • geosmin
  • odorant receptors
  • olfaction
  • olfactogenetics
  • olfactory
  • oviposition
  • projection neurons
  • vinegar fly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Olfactory Neurons and Brain Centers Directing Oviposition Decisions in Drosophila'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this