Identification and function of thermosensory neurons in Drosophila larvae

Lei Liu, Olena Yermolaieva, Wayne A. Johnson, Francois M. Abboud, Michael J. Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


Although the ability to sense temperature is critical for many organisms, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Using the calcium reporter yellow cameleon 2.1 and electrophysiological recordings, we identified thermosensitive neurons and examined their physiologic response in Drosophila melanogaster larvae. In the head, terminal sensory organ neurons showed increased activity in response to cooling by ≤ 1 °C, heating reduced their basal activity, and different units showed distinct response patterns. Neither cooling nor heating affected dorsal organ neurons. Body wall neurons showed a variety of distinct response patterns to both heating and cooling; the diverse thermal responses were strikingly similar to those described in mammals. These data establish a functional map of thermoresponsive neurons in Drosophila larvae and provide a foundation for understanding mechanisms of thermoreception in both insects and mammals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-273
Number of pages7
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2003


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