Drosophila Egg-Laying Site Selection as a System to Study Simple Decision-Making Processes

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Science  21 Mar 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5870, pp. 1679-1683
DOI: 10.1126/science.1151842

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The ability to select a better option from multiple acceptable ones is important for animals to optimize their resources. The mechanisms that underlie such decision-making processes are not well understood. We found that selection of egg-laying site in Drosophila melanogaster is a suitable system to probe the neural circuit that governs simple decision-making processes. First, Drosophila females pursue active probing of the environment before depositing each egg, apparently to evaluate site quality for every egg. Second, Drosophila females can either accept or reject a sucrose-containing medium, depending on the context. Last, communication of the “acceptability” of the sucrose-containing medium as an egg-laying option to the reproductive system depends on the function of a group of insulin-like peptide 7 (ILP7)–producing neurons. These findings suggest that selection of egg-laying site involves a simple decision-making process and provide an entry point toward a systematic dissection of this process.

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