SPLTRAK Abstract Submission

Circuit Dissection of Taste Processing In Drosophila


Kristin Scott1, Gabriella Sterne1,2, Barry Dickson2
1University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States
2Janelia Research Campus, Ashburn, VA, United States

Appropriate feeding decisions are essential to individual and species survival. In Drosophila, like mammals, neural circuits process information about taste and internal nutritive state to generate feeding decisions. Although gustatory sensory neurons and feeding motor neurons coexist in the same brain area, the subesophageal zone (SEZ), the circuitry that transforms taste information into a feeding motor sequence is unknown. To identify neural components of the feeding circuit, we designed a novel split-Gal4 collection which genetically labels individual SEZ interneurons. An optogenetic activation screen of this collection has uncovered an unprecedented number of novel SEZ neuron types that trigger aspects of the feeding motor program. However, only a handful of these newly-identified interneurons are required for feeding in hungry flies. Using pair-wise functional connectivity, GFP Reconstitution Across Synaptic Partners (GRASP), and neuron tracing in an electron microscopy volume, we are beginning to assemble a wiring diagram of these core feeding circuit interneurons. The completion of these experiments will produce the first-ever functional wiring diagram of Drosophila gustatory circuitry and will provide insight into the types of computations neural circuits perform to generate and carry out feeding decisions.