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Graduate and Postdoctoral Research Symposium 2020 has ended
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Stanislav Lazopulo

Color Preference in Fruit Flies Drosophila melanogaster Requires Visual and Peripheral Photoreceptors and Depends on the Time of Day
Oral Presentation
Postdoctoral Associate in Physics
Light is essential for the survival of almost all organisms, it brings warmth and allows photosynthesis, but also provides information about the surroundings and the time of the day. Organisms from bacteria to mammals have developed light-sensitive organs, called photoreceptors, which help them to navigate, respond to the environment and adjust to daily light cycles. The responses to light can be visual or non-visual and depend on the intensity and spectrum of light. Organisms adjust their behavioral and physiological processes to light conditions leading to an emergence of innate color preference. Innate color preference, an attractive or aversive response to light based on its spectral composition, is observed in a variety of animals. In humans, light of different colors known to affect mood and color preference can reflect current emotional state.  However, data on color preference in humans remain controversial and limited. Moreover, studies do not consider that the time of the day can have an effect on the behavior. In Drosophila, the coupling between daily varying external light and an endogenous time-keeping mechanism known as the circadian clock, produces a periodic pattern in many behaviors, raising the possibility the coupling can affect color preference as well. Here we show that when given a choice between blue, green and red light, fruit flies exhibit an unexpectedly complex pattern of color preference that changes with the time of day. Flies display a strong preference for a green light in the morning and late afternoon, reduced green preference at midday, and a robust avoidance of blue light throughout the day. We further show that the color preference depends on multiple photoreceptor systems and identify their key components. The periodic preference for green light requires visual photoreceptors and is controlled by the circadian clock, while the aversive response to blue light is mediated by peripheral sensory neurons in the fly’s body walls and clock independent. Our results reveal distinct pathways of innate color preference that coordinate fly’s interactions with ambient light, and provide an insight into the role of the circadian clock in the behavior.

Additional author(s): Andrey Lazopulo, James D. Baker, Sheyum Syed