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Genetic Variation in Odorant Receptors Contributes to Variation in Olfactory Behavior in a Natural Population of Drosophila melanogaster

Genetic Variation in Odorant Receptors Contributes to Variation in Olfactory Behavior in a Natural Population of Drosophila melanogaster


Abstract Chemoreception is a principle modality by which organisms gain information from their environment, and extensive variation in odor-mediated behavior has been documented within and among species. To examine the mechanisms by which sensory systems mediate these responses, we ask to what extent variation in Drosophila melanogaster odorant receptor genes contributes to variation in odor-mediated behavior. Significant differences in behavioral responses to structurally similar odorants, methyl hexanoate and ethyl hexanoate, were found in a natural population. Polymorphisms in 3 genomic regions ( Or22a/Or22b , Or35a , and Or47a ) were identified and associated with variation in behavior to these esters. Overall similarity in association profiles for both odorants was observed, except for Or47a in which polymorphisms were associated solely with variation in responses to ethyl hexanoate. Our analyses were then extended to examine polymorphisms in 3 odorant receptors previously reported to contribute to variation in olfactory behavior for the chemically distinct odorants benzaldehyde and acetophenone. Two Or10a polymorphisms were associated with variation in response to ethyl hexanoate. Finally, differences in Or35a and Or47a expression were associated with variation in responses to ethyl hexanoate. These results demonstrate that the genetic variation at the peripheral sensory stage plays a role in mediating differences in odor-mediated behavior.
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