Accounting for Taste: Montell lab finds that fruit fly gustatory receptors that sense a noxious compound is a cation channel
Fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) are used as model organisms for studying a variety of physiological functions. The fly tongue includes 68 so-called “gustatory receptors” (GRs) that play important roles in sensing sugars as well as bitter compounds. Nonetheless, determining which combination of GRs contributes to detecting a particular noxious compound remains difficult because they are composed of many subunits. Now, MCDB’s Craig Montell and colleagues have identified three fruit fly GRs required for a response to the noxious amino acid L-canavanine. The principal nonprotein amino acid of certain leguminous plants such as clover and alfalfa, L-canavanine is used as an insecticide and is toxic to fruit flies. The researchers’ findings appear in the journal Nature Communications.