Salt an Essential Nutrient: Advances in Understanding Salt Taste Detection Using Drosophila as a Model System.



Tree of Taste:

Taste buds on a human tongue connect to brain and brain decides whether food is palatable or not. Similarly, small insects like Drosophila (fruit fly) has taste buds too. They have hair like structure called sensillum that contain taste neurons (green- leaf like shape) present on the fly mouth and send taste information to brain (red) through axons (tree trunk) to a specialized structure called sub esophageal zone (SEZ, heart shaped structure) just below the tree trunk. Where and how this taste information is send, processed and stored further in the brain is not known both in humans and flies and we are investigating that using flies. The whole image is a stitch of two images taken separately.


The unidentified players:

The taste information about sweet, salt, sour, bitter and sour taste from taste buds on the tongue is received by the brain and is processed by many neurons present in the brain. The identity of these brain neurons is still unknown. We have identified beautiful patterns of many different taste neurons in the adult Drosophila (fruit fly) brain (in dark grey black color) experimental model system we are using in the lab. Which taste category these neurons respond to is under investigation in our lab. For each neuron type images were taken separately and presented here is a collage of some of those from the collection


3 minutes:  

Reproduction involves mating to produce offspring’s. We have captured different mating steps with white light using simple microscope. There is a pair of single female and single male (small in size). This whole mating from chasing to final copulation is taken using Drosophila (fruit flies). From left to right, first row- Chasing of female fly by male, male licking female, courtship song by spreading wing. Second row- 1st unsuccessful mating attempt by male, again following, 2nd unsuccessful attempt. Third row- 3rd unsuccessful attempt, courtship song again and finally mating. The whole process takes only 3 minutes. The most impressive and conserved natural phenomenon of the animal kingdom on earth.


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