Proc Biol Sci.: auth.: R.Benton

Proc Biol Sci. 2022 Dec 21;289(1989):20222054. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2022.2054. Epub 2022 Dec 14.

Drosophila olfaction: past, present and future

Richard Benton 1


Among the many wonders of nature, the sense of smell of the fly Drosophila melanogaster might seem, at first glance, of esoteric interest. Nevertheless, for over a century, the ‘nose’ of this insect has been an extraordinary system to explore questions in animal behaviour, ecology and evolution, neuroscience, physiology and molecular genetics. The insights gained are relevant for our understanding of the sensory biology of vertebrates, including humans, and other insect species, encompassing those detrimental to human health. Here, I present an overview of our current knowledge of D. melanogaster olfaction, from molecules to behaviours, with an emphasis on the historical motivations of studies and illustration of how technical innovations have enabled advances. I also highlight some of the pressing and long-term questions.

Keywords: Drosophila melanogaster; animal behaviour; neural circuit; neurophysiology; olfaction; olfactory receptor.