• Deciphering how the fruit fly brain works has been a significant branch of study in the biological sciences for several decades now. In this, a team of researchers from National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute for Fundamental Research, Bengaluru (NCBS-TIFR), have figured out the Neuronal Circuitry that is involved in processing bitter taste.

Tell us more about the Interneurons

  • While the neurons that sense the bitter taste have been identified, as have the motor neurons that innervate the physical reactions to having sensed bitter taste, the intermediate circuitry has remained unknown.
  • The team have identified a single pair of interneurons that are responsible for connecting the sensory and motor neurons involved in bitter taste processing.
  • To identify these interneurons, genetic and imaging approaches are used.
  • We genetically activated and inactivated particular neurons to identify their role in bitter taste behavior.
  • Partly the reason for the interest in the workings of the Drosophila (fruit fly) brain is because it is a good proxy to approach the goal of knowing how the human brain itself works.
  • The reactions of fruit fly to bitter and sweet tasting material differ significantly. When it senses food cues, mainly sweet tasting, through the sensory neurons in its legs, or proboscis, it extends its proboscis for consuming the food.
  • If a fly senses a bitter, toxic or noxious substance, it won’t extend its proboscis.