Antioxidants are natural food ingredients that protect cells from harmful influences. Their main task is to neutralize so-called “free radicals” which are produced in the process of oxidation and which are responsible for cell degeneration.
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, and the University of Lund, Sweden, now show that vinegar flies are able to detect these protective substances by using olfactory cues. Odors that are exclusively derived from antioxidants attract flies, increase feeding behavior and trigger oviposition in female flies.
Hany Dweck is stimulating olfactory sensory neurons in fruit flies with different odors using the single sensillum recording (SSR) technique.
Hydroxycinnamic acids are secondary plant metabolites and important dietary antioxidants. For animals as well as humans, antioxidants are essential components of a healthy diet, because they protect the cells and boost the immune system. Notably, they prevent the emergence of too many free radicals, mostly oxygen compounds, and therefore a metabolic condition, which is generally called oxidative stress. If an organism suffers from oxidative stress, free radicals attack its cells and weaken its immune system. In fruit flies, oxidative stress is induced by immune responses to toxins produced by pathogens in the food.
Hydroxycinnamic acids are found in high amounts in fruit. Since fruit is the preferred breeding substrate of fruit flies, scientists in the Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology at the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, took a closer look at these substances and their possible effect on the flies.
Fruit flies are not able to smell hydroxycinnamic acids directly. However, yeasts metabolize the antioxidants and produce ethylphenols. These volatile substances activate targeted olfactory neurons housed on the maxillary palps of the fruit flies, which express the odorant receptor Or71a. Interestingly, fly larvae which are also attracted by yeasts enriched with hydroxycinnamic acids using ethylphenols as olfactory cues, employ another odorant receptor for binding ethylphenols: Or94b, which is exclusively found in larvae, and which is co-expressed with Or94a, a receptor binding a general yeast odor.
Because flies cannot smell the antioxidants directly, ethylphenols provide reliable cues for the presence of these protective compounds in the food. The perception of these odorant signals has a direct impact of the flies’ behavior: They are attracted by the odor sources, show increased feeding behavior and choose oviposition sites where ethylphenols indicate that antioxidants are present in the breeding substrate.
"This form of olfactory proxy detection is not only a phenomenon in insects. It has also been shown in humans, that odors that we perceive as pleasant or appetizing, are in fact derived from important and healthy nutrients, such as essential amino acids, fatty acids and vitamins," Marcus Stensmyr explains. The scientist, who carried out the studies in the Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology together with his colleagues, has recently moved to a position as senior lecturer at the University of Lund.
These findings demonstrate a further example of an individual neuronal pathway, which has a profound effect on the flies: from the odorant signal to olfactory neurons and dedicated odorant receptors to behavior (see also our press release "A Direct Line through the Brain to Avoid Rotten Food – A Full STOP Signal for Drosophila − Odor activation of a dedicated neural pathway by geosmin, an odor produced by toxic microorganisms, activates a hard-wired avoidance response in the fly": http://www.ice.mpg.de/ext/971.html, December 7, 2012).
The ethylphenol pathway as an olfactory proxy detection of dietary antioxidants shows yet another facet of the complex odor-guided behavior in fruit flies. The scientists will now try to identify further neural pathways involved in the detection of essential nutrients, which ultimately trigger the flies’ behavior. [AO]
Dweck, H., Ebrahim, S. A. M., Farhan, A., Hansson, B. S., Stensmyr, M. C. (2015). Olfactory proxy detection of dietary antioxidants in Drosophila. Current Biology, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.11.062
Prof. Dr. Bill S. Hansson, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, email@example.com
Dr. Marcus C. Stensmyr, Department of Biology, Lund University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kontakt und Bildanfragen
Angela Overmeyer M.A., Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie, Hans-Knöll-Str. 8, 07743 Jena, +49 3641 57-2110, E-Mail email@example.com
Download von hochaufgelösten Fotos über http://www.ice.mpg.de/ext/735.html
Angela Overmeyer | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences