The genetic toolbox in Drosophila offers a multitude of different effector constructs to silence neurons and neuron populations. In this study we investigated the potencies of several effector genes – when expressed in olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) – to abolish odor-guided behavior in three different bioassays. We find that two of the tested effectors (tetanus toxin and Kir2.1) are capable of mimicking the Orco mutant phenotype in all of our behavioral paradigms. In both cases the effectiveness depended on effector expression levels as full suppression of odor-guided behavior was observed only in flies homozygous for both Gal4-driver and UAS-effector constructs. Interestingly, the impact of the effector genes differed between chemotactic assays (i.e. the fly has to follow an odor gradient to localize the odor source) and anemotactic assays (i.e. the fly has to walk upwind after detecting an attractive odorant). In conclusion, our results underline the importance of performing appropriate control experiments when exploiting the Drosophila genetic toolbox and demonstrate that some odor-guided behaviors are more resistant to genetic perturbations than others.
- Received January 10, 2017.
- Accepted February 20, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd