Seminar Series: Descending neurons coordinate anterior grooming behavior in Drosophila
Complex behaviors are assembled from simpler movements executed in sequence. However, how the central nervous system controls each component and coordinate their combination is not well understood. For anterior grooming behavior in fly, we find that its subroutines, head sweeps and leg rubs can be initiated separately, or as a set, by different descending neurons. Through genetic manipulation, behavioral assay and connectomics analysis, we show that both the circuits in the brain and ventral nerve cord participate in coordinating the alternation of these two movements. Furthermore, distinct left-right coordination is observed between head sweeps and leg rubs at descending level. Taken together, these results illustrated that distinct descending neurons orchestrate the complex alternation between the movements that make up anterior grooming.