All organisms are able to extract very specific features from the environment. Several sensory modality systems have been analysed in the search for receptor molecules or cellular properties that could account for the remarkable perception specificity that they exhibit. In the case of olfaction, intense and multidisciplinary efforts have been made to isolate odorant receptors and signalling cascades, as well to understand the basis of the representation of the neural map in the brain. In this project, we intend to assay a whole-organism approach to explore these issues. We propose here to study the olfactory behaviour and the sensory response of adult Drosophilae by using two different strategies. First, we will try to modify or silence specific groups of peripheral or central neurons by using different known Drosophilae mutants. Second, we will employ a genetically construction that allows us to increase up to three-fold the number of synapses established among selected neurons in the olfactory pathway. We will examine the changes of synaptic activity in vivo in these selected neurons by using synaptopHlourin-coupled reporter constructs in the glomerulus’s of living flies imaged during the application of the door to the antenna. This is a new type of pH-dependent fluorescent indicators of synaptic activity. The functional consequences elicited by these changes will be analysed by means of quantitative imaging and behavioural tests. In a second phase, we will try to reproduce the same type of experimental manipulations in integrative brain centres such as the mushroom bodies and the central complex using cell specific drivers of gene expression. In this last case, in addition to the analysis of possible modifications in olfactory perception, we will investigate another aspects as the motor activity and patter fixation. The project will allow the reintegration of the fellow who has just completed a Marie Curie fellowship of two years.
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