Calcium Imaging of Neural Activity in the Olfactory System of Drosophila

  • Antonia Strutz
  • Thomas Völler
  • Thomas Riemensperger
  • André FialaEmail author
  • Silke Sachse
Part of the Neuromethods book series (NM, volume 72)


Many animals are able to detect a plethora of diverse odorants using arrays of odorant receptors located on the olfactory organs. The olfactory information is subsequently encoded and processed by an overlapping, combinatorial activity of neurons forming complex neural circuits in the brain. In order to functionally dissect this neural circuitry, optical recording techniques allow visualizing spatial as well as temporal aspects of odor representations in populations of olfactory neurons. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has emerged as a highly suitable model system for olfactory research as it allows for the combination of genetic, molecular and physiological analyses. Genes of interest can be ectopically expressed in target regions using different binary transcriptional systems. Thereby, fluorescent calcium indicators can be expressed to monitor neuronal activity in genetically defined subsets of neurons. In this chapter we describe various available genetically encoded calcium sensors (GECIs) and the binary transcriptional systems available for Drosophila to express these GECIs in olfactory neurons. We will explain step-by-step methods for fly brain preparation, introduce different odor application devices, and describe the components needed using a widefield or two-photon imaging system including data acquisition and analysis. Overall, this review provides a guideline for optically monitoring the spatiotemporal neuronal activity evoked by odorants in the Drosophila brain.

Key words

Drosophila melanogaster Genetically encoded calcium indicators Binary transcriptional systems Cameleon G-CaMP Olfaction Optical recording Two-photon imaging Antennal lobe Mushroom body Insect brain 



This work was supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF research group to S.S.), the Max Planck Society (to S.S. and A.S.), and by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (GRK 1156 to T.V., SFB 554 to A.F. and T.R., SPP 1392 “Integrative Analysis of Olfaction” to S.S. and A.F.). We are grateful to Erich Buchner and Bill S. Hansson for support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonia Strutz
    • 1
  • Thomas Völler
    • 2
  • Thomas Riemensperger
    • 3
  • André Fiala
    • 4
    Email author
  • Silke Sachse
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Evolutionary NeuroethologyMax Planck Institute for Chemical EcologyJenaGermany
  2. 2.Neurobiology and GeneticsJulius-Maximilians-University of WuerzburgWuerzburgGermany
  3. 3.Molecular Neurobiology of Behaviour, Johann-Friedrich-Blumenbach-InstituteGeorg-August-University of GoettingenGoettingenGermany
  4. 4.Molecular Neurobiology of Behaviour, Johann-Friedrich-Blumenbach-InstituteGeorg-August- University of GoettingenGoettingenGermany

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