Article abstract

Nature Neuroscience 11, 187 - 199 (2007)
Published online: 23 December 2007 | doi:10.1038/nn2031

Bilateral olfactory sensory input enhances chemotaxis behavior

Matthieu Louis1, Thomas Huber2, Richard Benton1,3, Thomas P Sakmar2 & Leslie B Vosshall1

Neural comparisons of bilateral sensory inputs are essential for visual depth perception and accurate localization of sounds in space. All animals, from single-cell prokaryotes to humans, orient themselves in response to environmental chemical stimuli, but the contribution of spatial integration of neural activity in olfaction remains unclear. We investigated this problem in Drosophila melanogaster larvae. Using high-resolution behavioral analysis, we studied the chemotaxis behavior of larvae with a single functional olfactory neuron on either the left or right side of the head, allowing us to examine unilateral or bilateral olfactory input. We developed new spectroscopic methods to create stable odorant gradients in which odor concentrations were experimentally measured. In these controlled environments, we observed that a single functional neuron provided sufficient information to permit larval chemotaxis. We found additional evidence that the overall accuracy of navigation is enhanced by the increase in the signal-to-noise ratio conferred by bilateral sensory input.

  1. Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, New York 10065, USA.
  2. Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, New York 10065, USA.
  3. Present address: Center for Integrative Genomics, Genopode Building, University of Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.

Correspondence to: Leslie B Vosshall1 e-mail: