Behavioral Neuroscience in Drosophila Larvae
How do social context and internal state modulate behavior and the underlying neural processing in the brain?
The natural world is complex and constantly changing, so over time, we are experiencing different combinations of external sensory cues (visual/olfactory/mechanosensory...) in different contexts (social/solitary). Additionally, our internal state can vary, for example when we are hungry, sleepy, or stressed. To make appropriate behavioral decisions that are beneficial for us and satisfy our needs, our brain needs to integrate and process all available external and internal information.
Deciphering the neural mechanisms that underlie this behavioral flexibility towards different external cues and in different internal states is a major goal of my research. To this end, I use the Drosophila larva as a model organism. Even though their brain consists of only about 10.000 neurons, fruit fly larvae also display flexibility in their behavioral responses; for example, food-deprived larvae are attracted to an odorant that they would normally avoid when fed (Vogt et al., 2021).
In Drosophila, we can dissect and understand neural circuits in detail by manipulating single cell types or cell components using genetic tools, such as optogenetics, RNAi knockdown, or CRISPR knockout. Furthermore, in the fly larvae, it is possible to perform functional imaging in the intact, transparent animal to record the activity of single cell types. The whole brain of the fly larvae has been reconstructed from EM data so that the functional information acquired by behavior and imaging experiments can be integrated into whole-brain connectivity.
Currently, we are investigating how food deprivation affects other behaviors than olfactory preference and what are the neural mechanisms underlying those changes in behavior. We are also interested in how larvae interact in a group and how their behavior changes depending on the context, internal state, group constellation, and group size.
Fly larvae can perform cannibalistic behavior and can survive by feeding on conspecifics only. In our assay, we find that larvae rarely approach dead conspecifics. Food deprivation, however, enhances this preference significantly. We are now investigating why fed larvae avoid dead conspecifics and how hunger modulates information processing and behavioral output.
Photocredits: E. Böker, CASCB
20.10.2023 Bachelor Defense:
Today, Constantin successfully defended his Bachelor thesis at the University of Konstanz. He established optogenetics in the lab and investigated how artificial activation of taste neurons can affect the fly larva's internal state-modulated behavior. Congratulations and all the best for your future career!
Weber, D., Vogt, K., Miroschnikow, A., Pankratz, M., Thum, A.S. (2023). Four individually identified paired dopamine neurons signal taste punishment in larval Drosophila. biorxiv 2023.07.26.550661
Zhu ML, Herrera KJ, Vogt K., Bahl A. Navigational strategies underlying temporal phototaxis in Drosophila larvae. J Exp Biol 2021; jeb.242428
Vogt K, Zimmerman D, Schlichting M, Hernandez L, Qin S, Malacon K, Rosbash M, Pehlevan C, Cardona A, Samuel A DT. Internal state configures olfactory behavior and early sensory processing in Drosophila larva.Vol.7, no. 1, eabd6900, Science Advances, 2021
Vogt K. Towards a functional connectome in Drosophila. Journal of Neurogenetics, 2020
Vogt K, Aso Y, Knapek S., Hige T, Friedrich AB, Turner G, Rubin GM, Tanimoto H. Direct neural pathways convey distinct visual information to Drosophila mushroom bodies. eLife;5:e14009, 2016
Vogt K, Yarali A, Tanimoto H. Reversing event timing in visual conditioning leads to memories with opposite valence in Drosophila. PLOS ONE 10(10): e0139797, 2015
Vogt K, Schnaitmann C, Dylla KV, Knapek S, Aso Y, Rubin GM, Tanimoto H. Shared mushroom body circuits underlie visual and olfactory memories in Drosophila. eLife;3:e02395, 2014
Aso Y, Sitaraman D, Ichinose T, Kaun KR, Vogt K, et al. Mushroom body output neurons encode valence and guide memory-based action selection in Drosophila. eLife;3:e04580, 2014
Eschbach C, Vogt K, Schmuker M, Gerber B. The similarity between odors and their binary mixtures in Drosophila. Chem Senses 36 (7): 613-621, 2011
Schnaitmann C, Vogt K, Triphan T, Tanimoto H. Appetitive and aversive visual learning in freely moving Drosophila. Front Behav Neurosci 4: 10, 2010