Mate Detection

One of the most ancient and fundamental problems in biology is the recognition of suitable mating partners.  We found that, i) members of a largely unexplored clade of 35 ionotropic receptors in Drosophila have roles in mating behavior;  ii) some of the neurons in which they are expressed are activated specifically by exposure to members of the same species;  iii) activation of some of these neurons drives males over the species barrier to show sexual behavior toward a distantly related species;  iv)  activation drives females to mate.  We are now studying how these receptors, neurons and circuits underlie mate recognition. 

Optogenetic activation of IR52a neurons drives male sexual behavior toward females of another species

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Trans-Tango circuit mapping of IR52a neurons


He, Z., Luo, Y., Shang, X., Sun, J.S., and Carlson, J.R., (2019) Chemosensory sensilla of the Drosophila wing express a candidate ionotropic pheromone receptor, PLoS Biology, 17(5), e2006619

Koh, T.-W., He, Z., Gorur-Shandilya, S., Menuz, K. Larter, K., Stewart, S. and Carlson, J. (2014), The Drosophila IR20a clade of Ionotropic Receptors are candidate taste and pheromone receptors Neuron 83, 850-865.