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Does starvation-resistance in flies without octopamine explain differences in sucrose preference and
AuthorChristine Damrau, Julien Colomb and Björn Brembs
Author email bjoern©
Author website
DescriptionBiogenic amines are involved in almost all biological processes. They modulate perception, motivation and locomotion. The fruit fly Drosophila is an ideal model system to tease apart the neuronal populations mediating the aminergic effects. Using Drosophila neurogenetics, we are beginning to characterize the octopaminergic subpopulations involved in flight initiation and maintenance, walking speed, aggression and learning. Appetitive classical conditioning, using sucrose as unconditioned stimulus, is impaired in flies without octopamine. These mutant flies also show a decreased sucrose preference, compared to control flies. Is this decreased sucrose preference responsible for the learning deficit? Or are two different octopaminergic subpopulations mediating learning and sucrose preference?
Flies have to be starved to show an appropriate sucrose preference in a T-Maze paradigm. The longer the animals have been starved, the more pronounced their sucrose preference. Mutant flies without octopamine do not show a sucrose preference after having been starved for the same amount of time as control flies which did show sucrose preference. To exclude locomotor deficits in the mutant flies, we have used the proboscis extension response (PER) to show that increasing starvation times lead to decreasing thresholds for eliciting a PER, analogous to the T-Maze results. In order to compare wild type flies with octopamine-less mutant flies in any sucrose preference assay, both groups need to be equilibrated with respect to their starvation level. To define the starvation level of the mutant flies relative to the control flies, we performed mortality tests. We found that starved flies without octopamine live longer than wild type controls, suggesting that increased starvation times are required to lead to similar sucrose preference (and hence maybe learning) in flies without octopamine. Why are flies without octopamine more resistant to starvation? To answer this question we will test hemolymph carbohydrate concentrations in wild type and mutant flies and compare the sizes and weights of both groups of flies.
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