The peripheral olfactory code in Drosophila larvae contains temporal information and is robust over multiple timescales

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We studied the electrophysiological activity of two classes of Drosophila melanogaster larval olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs), Or24a and Or74a, in response to 1s stimulation with butanol, octanol, 2-heptanone, and propyl acetate. Each odour/OSN combination produced unique responses in terms of spike count and temporal profile. We used a classifier algorithm to explore the information content of OSN activity, and showed that as well as spike count, the activity of these OSNs included temporal information that enabled the classifier to accurately identify odours. The responses of OSNs during continuous odour exposure (5 and 20 min) showed that both types of neuron continued to respond, with no complete adaptation, and with no change to their ability to encode temporal information. Finally, we exposed larvae to octanol for 3 days and found only minor quantitative changes in OSN response to odours, indicating that the larval peripheral code is robust when faced with long-term exposure to odours, such as would be found in a natural context.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number20160665
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1831
Early online date18 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2016

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