Reception of chemicals via olfaction and gustation are prerequisites to find, distinguish, and recognize food and mates and to avoid dangers. Several receptor gene superfamilies are employed in arthropod chemosensation: inverse 7-transmembrane (7-TM) gustatory and olfactory receptors (GRs, ORs), 3-TM ionotropic glutamate-related receptors (IRs), receptor-guanylyl cyclases, transient receptor potential ion channels, and epithelial sodium channels. Some of these receptor gene families have ancient origins and expanded in several taxa, producing very large, variant gene families adapted to the respectively relevant odor ligands in species-specific environments. Biochemical and electrophysiological studies in situ as well as molecular genetics found evidence for G-protein-dependent signal transduction cascades for ORs, GRs, and IRs, suggesting that signal amplification is paramount for chemical senses. In contrast, heterologous expression studies argued for primarily ionotropic transduction as a prerequisite to interstimulus intervals in the range of microseconds.
The main function of brains is to generate adaptive behavior. Far from being the stereotypical, robot-like insect, the fruit fly Drosophila exhibits astounding flexibility and chooses different courses of actions even under identical external circumstances. Due to the power of genetics, we now are beginning to understand the neuronal mechanisms underlying this behavioral flexibility. Interestingly, the evidence from studies of disparate behaviors converges on common organizational principles common to many if not all behaviors, such as modified sensory processing, involvement of biogenic amines in network remodeling, ongoing activity, and modulation by feedback. Seemingly foreseeing these recent insights, the first research fields in Drosophila behavioral neurogenetics reflected this constant negotiation between internal and external demands on the animal as the common mechanism underlying adaptive behavioral choice in Drosophila.
Jiaxing Li and Catherine A. Collins
In the face of acute or chronic axonal damage, neurons and their axons undergo a number of molecular, cellular, and morphological changes. These changes facilitate two types of responses, axonal degeneration and regeneration, both of which are remarkably conserved in both vertebrates and invertebrates. Invertebrate model organisms, including Drosophila and C. elegans, have offered a powerful platform with accessible genetic tools for manipulation and amenable nervous system for visualization. Thus far, several critical components and pathways in axonal degeneration and regeneration have been identified in invertebrate studies, including Sarm and Wallenda/DLK. This article highlights important findings in Drosophila, C. elegans, and other invertebrate injury models that have shed light upon the mechanism in axonal injury response.
Lynne A. Fieber
This chapter introduces working definitions of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters from the perspective of invertebrate physiological processes. Neuropeptides and neurotransmitters are intercellular chemical signaling agents used by all animals. Chemical signaling augments or substitutes for electrical communication in the nervous system. When these agents act as neurotransmitters, they convert electrical signals to chemical signals across the synapse. As hormones, they circulate from a site of release to act at a more distant site in the body of the organism. Neuropeptides and neurotransmitters are classified into these groups mostly on the basis of their molecular size. This article describes several neuropeptide superfamilies and their wide scope of actions in model invertebrates. The article also describes the main neurotransmitters used by invertebrates.