Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two 'Noses' Are Necessary For Flies To Navigate Well

Date:
December 29, 2007
Source:
Rockefeller University
Summary:
Animals and insects communicate through an invisible world of scents. By exploiting infrared technology, researchers just made that world visible. With the ability to see smells, these scientists now show that when fly larvae detect smells with both olfactory organs they find their way toward a scented target more accurately than when they detect them with one.

By genetically manipulating flies to express odorant receptors in one olfactory organ or both, researchers have shown that the brains of Drosophila melanogaster larvae not only make use of stereo cues to locate odors but also to navigate toward them -- a behavior called chemotaxis.
Credit: iStockphoto

Animals and insects communicate through an invisible world of scents. By exploiting infrared technology, researchers at Rockefeller University just made that world visible. With the ability to see smells, these scientists now show that when fly larvae detect smells with both olfactory organs they find their way toward a scented target more accurately than when they detect them with one.

"Having two eyes allows us to have depth perception and two ears allows us to pinpoint a noise precisely," says Leslie Vosshall, head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior. "Sensing odors in stereo is equally important."

In research to be published in the December 23 online issue of Nature Neuroscience, Vosshall and her colleagues show that odor information is easier to perceive when it is smelled with both olfactory organs. By genetically manipulating flies to express odorant receptors in one olfactory organ or both, they show that the brains of Drosophila melanogaster larvae not only make use of stereo cues to locate odors but also to navigate toward them -- a behavior called chemotaxis.

To study this behavior, Vosshall and her colleagues had to figure out which direction the larvae move with respect to the source of the odor. But since odors are invisible, the researchers could neither predict how the flies would move in relation to these scents nor guess whether the odors were concentrated in patches or along a gradient. To complicate matters, odors whisk to and fro at the mercy of the slightest stir, making it impossible to determine their concentrations at particular locations.

"We needed to create an environment in which we knew something about the spatial arrangement of the odors," says Vosshall. "We needed to see the smells."

In collaboration with colleagues in Thomas P. Sakmar's Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, the researchers used a novel spectroscopic technique that exploited infrared light to create environments where they could see, control and precisely quantify the distribution of these smells.

When Vosshall and her colleagues observed the animals' behavior, they found that although animals with one functional nose or two were both able to sense odors, only the ones with both olfactory organs working accurately navigated toward the odor source. "A left-right comparison isn't necessary for flies to smell," says Vosshall, "but it is necessary for them to do it well."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University. "Two 'Noses' Are Necessary For Flies To Navigate Well." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071226230117.htm>.
Rockefeller University. (2007, December 29). Two 'Noses' Are Necessary For Flies To Navigate Well. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071226230117.htm
Rockefeller University. "Two 'Noses' Are Necessary For Flies To Navigate Well." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071226230117.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) A rare, well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth is going on sale at Summers Place Auctions hope the 11.5-foot tall, almost intact specimen will fetch between $245,000 to $409,000. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fox Bites Conn. Student And School Staffers In Rare Attack

Fox Bites Conn. Student And School Staffers In Rare Attack

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) A fox attacked a second-grade boy at a Connecticut elementary school Monday. It also attacked two school staff members and a woman and her dog. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) Using proteins derived from mussels, engineers at MIT have made a supersticky underwater adhesive. They're now looking to make "living glue." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) A white tiger killed a young man who climbed over a fence at the New Delhi zoo and jumped into the animal's enclosure on Tuesday, a spokesman said. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins