Taste and pheromone perception in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Academic Article uri icon


  • Taste is an essential sense for detection of nutrient-rich food and avoidance of toxic substances. The Drosophila melanogaster gustatory system provides an excellent model to study taste perception and taste-elicited behaviors. "The fly" is unique in the animal kingdom with regard to available experimental tools, which include a wide repertoire of molecular-genetic analyses (i.e., efficient production of transgenics and gene knockouts), elegant behavioral assays, and the possibility to conduct electrophysiological investigations. In addition, fruit flies, like humans, recognize sugars as a food source, but avoid bitter tasting substances that are often toxic to insects and mammals alike. This paper will present recent research progress in the field of taste and contact pheromone perception in the fruit fly. First, we shall describe the anatomical properties of the Drosophila gustatory system and survey the family of taste receptors to provide an appropriate background. We shall then review taste and pheromone perception mainly from a molecular genetic perspective that includes behavioral, electrophysiological and imaging analyses of wild type flies and flies with genetically manipulated taste cells. Finally, we shall provide an outlook of taste research in this elegant model system for the next few years.

published proceedings

  • Pflugers Arch

author list (cited authors)

  • Ebbs, M. L., & Amrein, H.

citation count

  • 64

complete list of authors

  • Ebbs, Michelle L||Amrein, Hubert

publication date

  • August 2007