A Magnetic Tether System to Investigate Visual and Olfactory Mediated Flight Control in Drosophila
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.3791/1063
It has been clear for many years that insects use visual cues to stabilize their heading in a wind stream. Many animals track odors carried in the wind. As such, visual stabilization of upwind tracking directly aids in odor tracking. But do olfactory signals directly influence visual tracking behavior independently from wind cues? Also, the recent deluge of research on the neurophysiology and neurobehavioral genetics of olfaction in Drosophila has motivated ever more technically sophisticated and quantitative behavioral assays. Here, we modified a magnetic tether system originally devised for vision experiments by equipping the arena with narrow laminar flow odor plumes. A fly is glued to a small steel pin and suspended in a magnetic field that enables it to yaw freely. Small diameter food odor plumes are directed downward over the fly's head, eliciting stable tracking by a hungry fly. Here we focus on the critical mechanics of tethering, aligning the magnets, devising the odor plume, and confirming stable odor tracking.