Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 201, Issue 9, pp 895–909 | Cite as

Current techniques for high-resolution mapping of behavioral circuits in Drosophila

  • Lovesha Sivanantharajah
  • Bing Zhang


Understanding behavior requires unraveling the mysteries of neurons, glia, and their extensive connectivity. Drosophila has emerged as an excellent organism for studying the neural basis of behavior. This can be largely attributed to the extensive effort of the fly community to develop numerous sophisticated genetic tools for visualizing, mapping, and manipulating behavioral circuits. Here, we attempt to highlight some of the new reagents, techniques and approaches available for dissecting behavioral circuits in Drosophila. We focus on detailing intersectional strategies such as the Flippase-induced intersectional Gal80/Gal4 repression (FINGR), because of the tremendous potential they possess for mapping the minimal number of cells required for a particular behavior. The logic and strategies outlined in this review should have broad applications for other genetic model organisms.


Drosophila Behavior Circuit mapping Intersection FINGR 



Calcium-modulated photoactivatable ratiometric integrator






Designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs






Flippase recognition target


Flippase-induced intersectional Gal80/Gal4 repression


Fly mind-altering device


Gal4-based mosaic-inducible and reporter-exchangeable enhancer-trap


GFP reconstitution across synaptic partners


Horseradish peroxidase


Integrase swappable in vivo targeting element


Mosaic analysis with a repressible cell marker


Synaptic tagging with recombination


Tetanus toxin


Upstream activation sequence


X-fluorescent protein



We thank our colleagues for freely sharing their reagents, fruitful exchanges of ideas, and their high enthusiasm for mapping brain circuits. Due to space constraints, we apologize to those whose interesting work we could not cite in this review. Bing Zhang specifically thanks Rudolf Bohm, Will Welch, Lindsey Goodnight, Lea Henry, Hong Bao and other members of his lab for their important contributions to the initial development of the FINGR method and establishment of the ET-FLPx2 stocks, and thanks his current lab members for ongoing efforts in circuit mapping. We thank Richard Daniels and Gentry Decker for helpful comments on the manuscript. We are grateful for the institutional support from both the University of Oklahoma and the University of Missouri and for grant support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) (IOS-1025556; DBI-1126578; IOS-1354609) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) (RO1-NS060878). All procedures performed in studies of animals were in accordance with ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the work was conducted.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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