Dr. Andrew Dacks and his students recently had two new
papers accepted for publication, one of which earned the cover image on the
August 2 issue of the Journal of
The paper entitled, “Identified Serotonergic ModulatoryNeurons Have Heterogeneous Synaptic Connectivity within the Olfactory System ofDrosophila" (Coates KE, et al), published in the Journal of Neuroscience (2 August 2017, 37 (31) 7918-7331), was chosen as the cover image for this issue (see image, at left). The cover shows a confocal image of two serotonergic modulatory neurons – the CSD neurons – in the Drosophila brain. In this study, the Dacks lab used a pair of identified serotonergic neurons within the Drosophila olfactory system as a model to establish a framework for modulatory neuron connectivity, in an attempt to better understand the connectivity of individual modulatory neurons to their target networks. Their findings demonstrate that individual modulatory neurons can integrate neuron class-specific input from their target network, which is often nonreciprocal. Additionally, they found that modulatory neuron output can be stereotyped, yet nonuniform, across network regions. These results provide new insights into the synaptic relationships that underlie network function of modulatory neurons (see Significance Statement of this paper, for more information).
The second paper, entitled, “Co-option of a motor-to-sensoryhistaminergic circuit correlates with insect flight biomechanics" (Chapman PD, et al), was published in collaboration with the Daly lab, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences), which is the Royal Society’s flagship biological research journal. This study describes the co-option of a motor-to-somatosensory circuit into an olfactory network in moths. By analyzing wing beating during odor-tracking, a self-induced sensory stimulation that may impose selective pressures that influence neural circuit evolution in many moths, this study demonstrates that mesothoracic to deutocerebral histominergic neurons (MDHns) innervate the anntenal lobes of advanced and basal moths, but not butterflies. This demonstrates that the MDHns represent an example of architectural exaptation, in which neurons that provide motor output information to mechanosensory regions have been co-opted to provide information to the olfactory system in moths.
Both papers included two authors from the BRNI’s SummerUndergraduate Research Internship (SURI) program, all of who contributed to these projects during the nine weeks they spent in the Dacks or Daly labs, during their time in the SURI program in either 2015 or 2016.