Associative Odor Learning in Drosophila Abolished by Chemical Ablation of Mushroom Bodies

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The corpora pedunculata, or mushroom bodies (MBs), in the brain of Drosophila melanogaster adults consist of approximate 2500 parallel Kenyon cell fibers derived from four MB neuroblasts.Hydroxyurea fed to newly hatched larvae selectively deletes these cells, resulting in complete, precise MB ablation. Adult flies developing without MBs behave normally in most respects, but are unable to perform in a classical conditioning paradigm that tests associative learning of odor cues and electric shock. This deficit cannot be attributed to reductions in olfactory sensitivity, shock reactivity, or locomotor behavior. The results demonstrate that MBs mediate associative odor learning in flies.

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