Mechanisms of plasticity in simple taxis behaviors in Drosophila
Like the proverbial moth drawn to the candle flame, the fruit fly Drosophila also stereotypically approaches light sources. This positive phototaxis is the archetypal example of hard-wired input-output behaviors. However, it has long been known that defects to the wings of the fly, either by mutation or by damage, reduce not only phototaxis but also geotaxis in walking Drosophila. If these behaviors are so hard-wired, how can manipulating an unrelated organ affect them? Using the classic countercurrent photo-/geotaxis essay developed by Seymour Benzer, we tested the hypothesis that instead of taxis being a simple matter of stimulus and response, there may be a central decision-making stage which is influenced by the wing manipulations.