Host: Peter Andolfatto
Title: Evolution of neural circuits in Drosophilids
Abstract: Sensory systems encode the world around us to guide context-dependent appropriate behaviours that are often species-specific. This must involve evolutionary changes in the way that sensory systems extract environmental features and/or in the downstream sensory-motor transformations implemented. However, we still know little about how evolution shapes neural circuits. We address these fundamental questions using as models the olfactory systems of different fly species. We employ a multidisciplinary approach, including comparative connectomics, the development of genetic tools across species, fast volumetric calcium imaging, field work with environmental chemical analysis, and behaviour. I will present a project where the combination of these methods has uncovered the role of a local inhibitory interneuron population in the evolution of odour-guided behaviours. This work highlights the evolvability of central neural circuits and suggest that local inhibitory neurons might be hubs for change in the evolution of behavioural diversity.