Sensory cues relevant to a food source, such as odors, can be associated with post-ingestion signals related either to food energetic value or toxicity. Despite numerous behavioral studies, a global understanding of the mechanisms underlying these long delay associations remains out of reach. Here, we demonstrate in Drosophila that the long-term association between an odor and a nutritious sugar depends on delayed post-ingestion signaling of energy level. We show at the neural circuit level that the activity of two pairs of dopaminergic neurons is necessary and sufficient to signal energy level to the olfactory memory center. Accordingly, we have identified in these dopaminergic neurons a delayed calcium trace that correlates with appetitive long-term memory formation. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that the Drosophila brain remembers food quality through a two-step mechanism that consists of the integration of olfactory and gustatory sensory information and then post-ingestion energetic value.
Musso, P. Y., Tchenio, P., & Preat, T. (2015). Delayed Dopamine Signaling of Energy Level Builds Appetitive Long-Term Memory in Drosophila. Cell Reports, 10(7), 1023–1031. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2015.01.036