The ability to respond to and to learn about mechanosensory disturbance is widespread among animals. Using Drosophila larvae, we describe how the frequency of mechanosensory disturbance ('buzz') affects three aspects of behaviour: free locomotion, innate olfactory preference, and potency as a punishment. We report that (i) during 2-3 seconds after buzz onset the larvae slowed down and then turned, arguably to escape this situation; this was seen for buzz frequencies of 10, 100, and 1000 Hz, (ii) innate olfactory preference was reduced when tested in the presence of the buzz; this effect was strongest for the 100 Hz frequency, (iii) after odour-buzz associative training, we observed escape from the buzz-associated odour; this effect was apparent for 10 and 100, but not for 1000 Hz. We discuss the multiple behavioural effects of mechanosensation and stress that the immediate effects on locomotion and the impact as punishment differ in their frequency-dependence. Similar dissociations between immediate, reflexive behavioural effects and reinforcement potency were previously reported for sweet, salty and bitter tastants. It should be interesting to see how these features map onto the organization of sensory, ascending pathways.
Saumweber, T., Cano, C., Klessen, J., Eichler, K., Fendt, M., & Gerber, B. (2014). Immediate and punitive impact of mechanosensory disturbance on olfactory behaviour of larval Drosophila. Biology Open, 3(10), 1005–1010. https://doi.org/10.1242/bio.20149183