A Caltech Library Service

A visual pathway for skylight polarization processing in Drosophila

Hardcastle, Ben J. and Omoto, Jaison J. and Kandimalla, Pratyush and Nguyen, Bao-Chau M. and Keleş, Mehmet F. and Boyd, Natalie K. and Hartenstein, Volker and Frye, Mark A. (2021) A visual pathway for skylight polarization processing in Drosophila. eLife, 10 . Art. No. e63225. ISSN 2050-084X. PMCID PMC8051946. doi:10.7554/elife.63225.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Creative Commons Attribution.

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.

[img] PDF (Transparent reporting form) - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Many insects use patterns of polarized light in the sky to orient and navigate. Here, we functionally characterize neural circuitry in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, that conveys polarized light signals from the eye to the central complex, a brain region essential for the fly’s sense of direction. Neurons tuned to the angle of polarization of ultraviolet light are found throughout the anterior visual pathway, connecting the optic lobes with the central complex via the anterior optic tubercle and bulb, in a homologous organization to the ‘sky compass’ pathways described in other insects. We detail how a consistent, map-like organization of neural tunings in the peripheral visual system is transformed into a reduced representation suited to flexible processing in the central brain. This study identifies computational motifs of the transformation, enabling mechanistic comparisons of multisensory integration and central processing for navigation in the brains of insects.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle Paper
Hardcastle, Ben J.0000-0002-4819-5631
Omoto, Jaison J.0000-0003-2032-6350
Hartenstein, Volker0000-0001-9676-7393
Frye, Mark A.0000-0003-3277-3094
Additional Information:© 2021 Hardcastle et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited. Received: 18 September 2020; Accepted: 08 March 2021; Published: 23 March 2021. We are grateful to Sam LoCascio for valuable technical assistance with the MCFO technique. We thank Holger Krapp, Kit Longden and Giovanni Frighetto for their advice and comments on the manuscript. We thank Stanley Heinze, Romain Franconville and two anonymous reviewers for their time and effort spent providing constructive feedback. We also thank Orkun Akin for providing reagents and code, Hannah Haberkern for insightful discussion of data, and Michael Reiser for helpful input at an early stage of the work. Tanya Wolff and Vivek Jayaraman kindly provided the split-Gal4 line SS00096. Stocks obtained from the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center (NIH P40OD018537) were used in this study. Author contributions: Ben J Hardcastle, Conceptualization, Data curation, Software, Formal analysis, Supervision, Validation, Investigation, Visualization, Methodology, Writing - original draft, Writing - review and editing; Jaison J Omoto, Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Supervision, Investigation, Visualization, Methodology, Writing - review and editing; Pratyush Kandimalla, Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Visualization, Writing - review and editing; Bao-Chau M Nguyen, Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation; Mehmet F Keles¸ , Investigation, Methodology; Natalie K Boyd, Investigation; Volker Hartenstein, Conceptualization, Resources, Supervision, Funding acquisition, Visualization, Project administration, Writing - review and editing; Mark A Frye, Conceptualization, Resources, Supervision, Funding acquisition, Project administration, Writing - review and editing. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication. Data availability: The data and analysis code generated during this study are available at the Open Science Framework.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
PubMed Central ID:PMC8051946
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210517-135254356
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:A visual pathway for skylight polarization processing in Drosophila. Hardcastle et al. eLife 2021;10:e63225; DOI: 10.7554/elife.63225
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109156
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:17 May 2021 21:17
Last Modified:17 May 2021 21:17

Repository Staff Only: item control page