A Switch in Thermal Preference in Drosophila Larvae Depends on Multiple Rhodopsins

Takaaki Sokabe, Hsiang Chin Chen, Junjie Luo, Craig Montell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Drosophila third-instar larvae exhibit changes in their behavioral responses to gravity and food as they transition from feeding to wandering stages. Using a thermal gradient encompassing the comfortable range (18°C to 28°C), we found that third-instar larvae exhibit a dramatic shift in thermal preference. Early third-instar larvae prefer 24°C, which switches to increasingly stronger biases for 18°C–19°C in mid- and late-third-instar larvae. Mutations eliminating either of two rhodopsins, Rh5 and Rh6, wiped out these age-dependent changes in thermal preference. In larvae, Rh5 and Rh6 are thought to function exclusively in the light-sensing Bolwig organ. However, the Bolwig organ was dispensable for the thermal preference. Rather, Rh5 and Rh6 were required in trpA1-expressing neurons in the brain, ventral nerve cord, and body wall. Because Rh1 contributes to thermal selection in the comfortable range during the early to mid-third-instar stage, fine thermal discrimination depends on multiple rhodopsins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-344
Number of pages9
JournalCell Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 4 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Drosophila
  • larvae
  • opsin
  • rhodopsin
  • temperature sensation
  • thermotaxis
  • TRP channel
  • TRPA1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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