Peppermint flies!!!!

Martin Cann mjcann at
Mon Mar 18 20:53:25 EST 1996

In article <Pine.SOL.3.91.960315103339.661C-100000 at>,
"David M. Stack" <saustacd at> wrote:

> Hi everyone,
>                I'm an undergrad at the university of Reading, England, 
> and I am doing some research on D. melongaster.I am repeating an old 
> experiment of a man named Thorpe which involves testing the taste and 
> smell preferences of the flies. Will flies raised on peppermint chose a 
> pot of the medium in a choice chamber? Will the offspring of these flies, 
> when raised on a normal medium, still chose peppermint food in a choice 
> chamber? I would be really grateful to anyone who could send me some 
> information, no matter how small, large,complicated, whatever, or for any 
> suggestions.

I think the question you are basically raising is that of a conditioned
stimulus.  I could be wrong but I think that you could only condition the
flies to go for the peppermint if the peppermint is linked to a
reward/punishment.  For example, in a T-maze you may have a peppermint
odour and a neutral odour, say octane.  Give them five minutes to wander
around and head towards one particular odour, trap them, and give the ones
that choose octane a big ol' nasty electric shock.  Do this enough times
and they will learn to love peppermint.  These kinds of experiments have
been performed extensively by Tim Tully whose papers on olfactory learning
in Drosophila are somewhat of a paradigm.  You should find his papers on
Medline but good look finding the journals.  Even us in the good ol' US of
A have heard about the infamous Reading University library where they
organize books by size!

Anyway, by experimenting in this manner you could possibly isolate mutant
flies that are refractory to the detection of peppermint etc.  Who knows
maybe Canton S is hot for peppermint.  I'd sure like to know!


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