Visual projection neurons in the Drosophila lobula link feature detection to distinct behavioral programs

  1. Ming Wu
  2. Aljoscha Nern  Is a corresponding author
  3. W. Ryan Williamson
  4. Mai M Morimoto
  5. Michael B Reiser
  6. Gwyneth M Card
  7. Gerald M Rubin  Is a corresponding author
  1. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, United States
  2. Janelia Farm Research Campus, United States

Abstract

Visual projection neurons (VPNs) provide an anatomical connection between early visual processing and higher brain regions. Here we characterize lobula columnar (LC) cells, a class of Drosophila VPNs that project to distinct central brain structures called optic glomeruli. We anatomically describe 22 different LC types and show that, for several types, optogenetic activation in freely moving flies evokes specific behaviors. The activation phenotypes of two LC types closely resemble natural avoidance behaviors triggered by a visual loom. In vivo two-photon calcium imaging reveals that these LC types respond to looming stimuli, while another type does not, but instead responds to the motion of a small object. Activation of LC neurons on only one side of the brain can result in attractive or aversive turning behaviors depending on the cell type. Our results indicate that LC neurons convey information on the presence and location of visual features relevant for specific behaviors.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Ming Wu

    Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Aljoscha Nern

    Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, United States
    For correspondence
    nerna@janelia.hhmi.org
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-3822-489X
  3. W. Ryan Williamson

    Card Lab, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Mai M Morimoto

    Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Michael B Reiser

    Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-4108-4517
  6. Gwyneth M Card

    Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Gerald M Rubin

    Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, United States
    For correspondence
    rubing@janelia.hhmi.org
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8762-8703

Funding

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

  • Ming Wu
  • Aljoscha Nern
  • W. Ryan Williamson
  • Mai M Morimoto
  • Michael B Reiser
  • Gwyneth M Card
  • Gerald M Rubin

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

Reviewing Editor

  1. Kristin Scott, University of California, Berkeley, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: August 26, 2016
  2. Accepted: December 23, 2016
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: December 28, 2016 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: February 6, 2017 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2016, Wu 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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  1. Ming Wu
  2. Aljoscha Nern
  3. W. Ryan Williamson
  4. Mai M Morimoto
  5. Michael B Reiser
  6. Gwyneth M Card
  7. Gerald M Rubin
(2016)
Visual projection neurons in the Drosophila lobula link feature detection to distinct behavioral programs
eLife 5:e21022.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.21022
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