Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene causes blue light to have a banana odor in fruit flies

Date:
May 26, 2010
Source:
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum
Summary:
Scientists in Germany have succeeded to genetically modify fruit fly larvae allowing them to smell blue light. The research team can activate single receptor neurons out of 28 olfactory neurons in the larvae for this sensory perception. Normally animals avoid light. However, blue light simulates in genetically modified larvae the smell of an odorant, e.g., banana, marzipan or glue -- odors which are all present in rotting fruit and attractive to fruit fly larvae.

Petri dish with fly larvae, irradiated with blue light from underneath. Unchanged larvae normally avoid areas exposed to light. The light has a pleasant odor for the modified larvae thus they move towards it. Larvae that appear to be white are discernible on the illuminated surface.
Credit: Image courtesy of Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum

Scientists at Germany's Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum have succeeded to genetically modify Drosophila (fruit fly) larvae allowing them to smell blue light.

The research team can activate single receptor neurons out of 28 olfactory neurons in the larvae for this sensory perception. Normally animals avoid light. However, blue light simulates in genetically modified larvae the smell of an odorant, e.g., banana, marzipan or glue -- odors which are all present in rotting fruit and attractive to fruit fly larvae. The team of scientists from Bochum and Göttingen, working under the auspices of Prof. Klemens Störtkuhl, hopes to gain insight into the processing of the neural network. They have published their findings in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience Behavior.

Light has a “tasty” odor

The olfactory neurons of the only one millimeter sized genetically modified Drosophila larvae are all capable of producing the protein that is activated by light. The researchers can freely select which of the 28 cells will ultimately be light-sensitive using genetic markers. Prof. Störtkuhl explained that they were able to either activate cells which normally register repulsive odors and subsequently cause an aversion response, or cells that sense attractive odors such as banana, marzipan or glue. The activated neurons send an electrical signal if they are stimulated with blue light at a wavelength of 480 nm. The larva thus has the impression that it perceives odors. The experiment shows that it is possible by inserting photo activated proteins into neurons photo stimulation can produce an olfactory behavior in these larvae , whereas genetically unchanged larvae generally avoid light. 

Animals are not hurt

Moreover, the researchers could measure the effect electrophysiologically. Thin electrodes can detect the signal of the light-activated neurons. The transmission of the nerve signal can be followed all the way into the brain, thus enabling non-invasive observation of neural networks. Prof. Störtkuhl pointed out that this method has the great advantage of enabling tests to be carried out on living animals without an injury. The research scientists hope to gain an insight into the network and mode of action of the brain. It must moreover be pointed out that the olfactory sense of the genetically modified fly larvae remains normal.

Same principle applies to other animals

The researchers now plan to use the same principle to undertake further studies on adult Drosophila, equipping them with photo-activated proteins to cause targeted isolated cerebral neurons to react. These successfully employed methods are now also being used in model systems i.e. mice in other laboratories including a work group at the RUB, to investigate similar issues using mice.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bellmann D, Richardt A, Freyberger R, Nuwal N, Schwärzel M, Fiala A and Störtkuhl KF. Optogenetically induced olfactory stimulation in Drosophila larvae reveals the neuronal basis of odor-aversion behavior. Frontiers in Neuroscience Behavior, 2010; 4 (27) DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2010.00027

Cite This Page:

Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. "Gene causes blue light to have a banana odor in fruit flies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100526093618.htm>.
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. (2010, May 26). Gene causes blue light to have a banana odor in fruit flies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100526093618.htm
Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum. "Gene causes blue light to have a banana odor in fruit flies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100526093618.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
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