Zanon M, Zanini D, Haase A.
Sci. Rep. 12, 1–11, 2022 (doi:10.1038/s41598-022-12237-x)
Thanks to its well-known neuroanatomy, limited brain size, complex behaviour, and the extensive genetic methods, Drosophila has become an indispensable model in neuroscience. A vast number of studies have focused on its olfactory system and the processing of odour information. Optogenetics is one of the recently developed genetic tools that significantly advance this field of research, allowing to replace odour stimuli by direct neuronal activation with light. This becomes a universal all-optical toolkit when spatially selective optogenetic activation is combined with calcium imaging to read out neuronal responses. Initial experiments showed a successful implementation to study the olfactory system in fish and mice, but the olfactory system of Drosophila has been so far precluded from an application. To fill this gap, we present here optogenetic tools to selectively stimulate functional units in the Drosophila olfactory system, combined with two-photon calcium imaging to read out the activity patterns elicited by these stimuli at different levels of the brain. This method allows to study the spatial and temporal features of the information flow and reveals the functional connectivity in the olfactory network.