Molecular and neuronal mechanisms of nutrient choice

How do animals know what type of nutrients they need? What are the molecular and neuronal mechanisms used by the brain to change the behavior of the animal to allow it to find and eat the required nutrients? We are analyzing genes identified as being required for nutrient choice in a neuronal whole-genome RNAi screen. Contemporaneously we have used genetic approaches to identify neuronal populations which are required for the same nutrient choices. The knowledge of molecular and neuronal players will be an entry point for studying neuronal mechanisms of nutrient balancing at the molecular, cellular and circuit levels.

A movie of flies choosing what to eat for lunch. The options are carbohydrate rich food (sucrose) in red and protein rich food (yeast) in blue.

We can easily identify the nutritional decision of the flies by inspecting their abdomen.

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