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A population of descending neurons that regulate the flight motor of Drosophila

Namiki, Shigehiro and Ros, Ivo G. and Morrow, Carmen and Rowell, William J. and Card, Gwyneth M. and Korff, Wyatt and Dickinson, Michael H. (2021) A population of descending neurons that regulate the flight motor of Drosophila. . (Unpublished)

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Like many insect species, Drosophila melanogaster are capable of maintaining a stable flight trajectory for periods lasting up to several hours(1, 2). Because aerodynamic torque is roughly proportional to the fifth power of wing length(3), even small asymmetries in wing size require the maintenance of subtle bilateral differences in flapping motion to maintain a stable path. Flies can even fly straight after losing half of a wing, a feat they accomplish via very large, sustained kinematic changes to the both damaged and intact wings(4). Thus, the neural network responsible for stable flight must be capable of sustaining fine-scaled control over wing motion across a large dynamic range. In this paper, we describe an unusual type of descending neurons (DNg02) that project directly from visual output regions of the brain to the dorsal flight neuropil of the ventral nerve cord. Unlike most descending neurons, which exist as single bilateral pairs with unique morphology, there is a population of at least 15 DNg02 cell pairs with nearly identical shape. By optogenetically activating different numbers of DNg02 cells, we demonstrate that these neurons regulate wingbeat amplitude over a wide dynamic range via a population code. Using 2-photon functional imaging, we show that DNg02 cells are responsive to visual motion during flight in a manner that would make them well suited to continuously regulate bilateral changes in wing kinematics. Collectively, we have identified a critical set of DNs that provide the sensitivity and dynamic range required for flight control.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Namiki, Shigehiro0000-0003-1559-799X
Ros, Ivo G.0000-0002-9089-548X
Rowell, William J.0000-0002-7422-1194
Card, Gwyneth M.0000-0002-7679-3639
Korff, Wyatt0000-0001-8396-1533
Dickinson, Michael H.0000-0002-8587-9936
Additional Information:The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license. This version posted August 6, 2021. A portion of this work was conducted as part of the Descending Interneuron Project Team at Janelia Research Campus. We would like to thank the Janelia Visiting Science Program for hosting MHD, Gudrun Ihrke and The Project Technical Resources group for assistance in coordinating the screening, and the Janelia FlyCore assisted with animal preparations. Research reported in this publication was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (S.N., W.J.R., G.M.C., W.K.) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health (I.G.R., M.H.D.) under Award U19NS104655. Author Contributions:: (Following CRediT taxonomy): Conceptualization: S.N., G.M.C., W.K, and M.H.D.; Methodology: S.N., G.M.C., W.K., and M.H.D.; Software: I.G.R., W.J.R.; Validation: W.J.R., C.M., W.K., G.M.C., I.G.R., M.H.D.; Formal Analysis: S.N., I.G.R., C.M., W.J.R., W.K., M.H.D.; Investigation: S.N., I.G.R., W.J.R.; Resources: G.M.C. W.K., M.H.D.; Data Curation: C.M., W.J.R., I.G.R.; Writing (Original Draft): S.N., M.H.D.; Writing (Review & Editing): W.K., I.G.R., M.H.D.; Visualization: S.N., I.G.R., C.M., W.K., M.H.D.; Funding Acquisition: G.M.C., W.K., M.H.D.; Supervision: G.M.C., W.K., M.H.D.; Project Administration: G.M.C., W.K., M.H.D. The authors have no competing interest to declare.
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Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)UNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210810-175033020
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Official Citation:A population of descending neurons that regulate the flight motor of Drosophila. Shigehiro Namiki, Ivo G. Ros, Carmen Morrow, William J. Rowell, Gwyneth M. Card, Wyatt Korff, Michael H. Dickinson. bioRxiv 2021.08.05.455281; doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:110192
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:11 Aug 2021 21:56
Last Modified:11 Aug 2021 21:56

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