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Multifunctional Wing Motor Control of Song and Flight

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  • Angela O'Sullivan
  • ,
  • Theodore Lindsay, California Institute of Technology, USA
  • Anna Prudnikova
  • Balazs Erdi, University of Vienna, Østrig
  • Michael Dickinson, California Institute of Technology, USA
  • Anne C. von Philipsborn

Multifunctional motor systems produce distinct output patterns that are dependent on behavioral context, posing a challenge to underlying neuronal control. Flies use their wings for flight and the production of a patterned acoustic signal, the male courtship song, employing in both cases a small set of wing muscles and corresponding motor neurons. We took first steps toward elucidating the neuronal control mechanisms of this multifunctional motor system by live imaging of muscle ensemble activity patterns during song and flight, and we established the functional role of a comprehensive set of wing muscle motor neurons by silencing experiments. Song and flight rely on distinct configurations of neuromuscular activity, with most, but not all, flight muscles and their corresponding motor neurons contributing to song and shaping its acoustic parameters. The two behaviors are exclusive, and the neuronal command for flight overrides the command for song. The neuromodulator octopamine is a candidate for selectively stabilizing flight, but not song motor patterns. Flies use their wings for both flight and courtship song. The distinct motor output relies on different muscle and motor neuron operating modes. O'Sullivan et al. uncover the multiple motor neurons shaping song parameters, and they propose a new model of how flight-steering muscles are used in song and how neuromodulation affects the two behaviors.

TidsskriftCurrent Biology
Sider (fra-til)2705-2717
StatusUdgivet - 10 sep. 2018

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