Coping with Space Neophobia in Drosophila melanogaster: The Asymmetric Dynamics of Crossing a Doorway to the Untrodden

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Abstract

We discover and examine within a wide phylogenetic perspective spatial neophobia, avoidance of untrodden terrain, in fruit flies, in an experimental setup that reduces the gap between the field and the laboratory. In our setup, fruit flies use a natal fruit as their origin, freely exploring for days their surroundings, which consists of a mixture of trodden and untrodden terrain. The interface between trodden and untrodden is, however, reduced in our setup to a wide doorway, opened within a surrounding wall. Crossing this doorway, characterized by a sharp contrast interface between trodden and untrodden, generates a behavior whose dynamics betrays the flies' space neophobia. The moment-by-moment dynamics of crossing is remarkably similar to that reported in mouse models of anxiety. This means that neophobic behavior is either homologous across arthropods and vertebrates or, not less interesting, convergent, whereby the same behavior is mediated in the two phyla by two completely different schemata.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0140207
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015

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