Volume 34, Issue. 6, December, 2018

Repeated Failure in Reward Pursuit Alters Innate Drosophila Larval Behaviors

Yue Fei1,2• Dikai Zhu1,2• Yixuan Sun2• Caixia Gong2• Shenyang Huang3• Zhefeng Gong2,*

1School of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China
2Department of Neurobiology, Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology of the Ministry of Health of China, Key Laboratory of Neurobiology, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310058, China
3Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA


Animals always seek rewards and the related neural basis has been well studied. However, what happens when animals fail to get a reward is largely unknown, although this is commonly seen in behaviors such as predation. Here, we set up a behavioral model of repeated failure in reward pursuit (RFRP) in Drosophila larvae. In this model, the larvae were repeatedly prevented from reaching attractants such as yeast and butyl acetate, before finally abandoning further attempts. After giving up, they usually showed a decreased locomotor speed and impaired performance in light avoidance and sugar preference, which were named as phenotypes of RFRP states. In larvae that had developed RFRP phenotypes, the octopamine concentration was greatly elevated, while tβh mutants devoid of octopamine were less likely to develop RFRP phenotypes, and octopamine feeding efficiently restored such defects. By down-regulating tβh in different groups of neurons and imaging neuronal activity, neurons that regulated the development of RFRP states and the behavioral exhibition of RFRP phenotypes were mapped to a small subgroup of non-glutamatergic and glutamatergic octopaminergic neurons in the central larval brain. Our results establish a model for investigating the effect of depriving an expected reward in Drosophila and provide a simplified framework for the associated neural basis.


Drosophila larva; Repeated failure in reward pursuit; Octopamine


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