1. Computational and Systems Biology
  2. Neuroscience
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Continuous lateral oscillations as a core mechanism for taxis in Drosophila larvae

  1. Antoine Wystrach
  2. Konstantinos Lagogiannis  Is a corresponding author
  3. Barbara Webb
  1. University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Research Article
  • Cited 21
  • Views 1,676
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Cite this article as: eLife 2016;5:e15504 doi: 10.7554/eLife.15504


Taxis behaviour in Drosophila larva is thought to consist of distinct control mechanisms triggering specific actions. Here we support a simpler hypothesis: that taxis results from direct sensory modulation of continuous lateral oscillations of the anterior body, sparing the need for 'action selection'. Our analysis of larvae motion reveals a rhythmic, continuous lateral oscillation of the anterior body, encompassing all head-sweeps, small or large, without breaking the oscillatory rhythm. Further, we show that an agent-model that embeds this hypothesis reproduces a surprising number of taxis signatures observed in larvae. Also, by coupling the sensory input to a neural oscillator in continuous time, we show that the mechanism is robust and biologically plausible. The mechanism provides a simple architecture for combining information across modalities, and explaining how learnt associations modulate taxis. We discuss the results in the light of larval neural circuitry and make testable predictions.

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Author details

  1. Antoine Wystrach

    School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Konstantinos Lagogiannis

    School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-9349-801X
  3. Barbara Webb

    School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-618045)

  • Antoine Wystrach
  • Konstantinos Lagogiannis

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. K VijayRaghavan, Tata Institute for Fundamental Research, India

Publication history

  1. Received: February 24, 2016
  2. Accepted: October 17, 2016
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: October 18, 2016 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: November 21, 2016 (version 2)


© 2016, Wystrach et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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