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Drosophila Avoids Parasitoids by Sensing Their Semiochemicals via a Dedicated Olfactory Circuit.

  • Shimaa A M Ebrahim
  • Hany K M Dweck
  • Johannes Stökl
  • John E Hofferberth
  • Federica Trona
  • Kerstin Weniger
  • Jürgen Rybak
  • Yoichi Seki
  • Marcus Stensmyr
  • Silke Sachse
  • Bill S Hansson
  • Markus Knaden
Publishing year: 2015
Language: English
Publication/Series: PLoS Biology
Volume: 13
Issue: 12
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Public Library of Science

Abstract english

Detecting danger is one of the foremost tasks for a neural system. Larval parasitoids constitute clear danger to Drosophila, as up to 80% of fly larvae become parasitized in nature. We show that Drosophila melanogaster larvae and adults avoid sites smelling of the main parasitoid enemies, Leptopilina wasps. This avoidance is mediated via a highly specific olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) type. While the larval OSN expresses the olfactory receptor Or49a and is tuned to the Leptopilina odor iridomyrmecin, the adult expresses both Or49a and Or85f and in addition detects the wasp odors actinidine and nepetalactol. The information is transferred via projection neurons to a specific part of the lateral horn known to be involved in mediating avoidance. Drosophila has thus developed a dedicated circuit to detect a life-threatening enemy based on the smell of its semiochemicals. Such an enemy-detecting olfactory circuit has earlier only been characterized in mice and nematodes.


  • Zoology


  • ISSN: 1545-7885
Marcus Stensmyr
E-mail: marcus [dot] stensmyr [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

Functional zoology

+46 46 222 37 87


Sölvegatan 35, Lund


Research group

Animal Physiology


Drosophila Olfactory Neuroecology

Doctoral students and postdocs


Nadia Melo

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