Mahmut and Nirag’s preprint posted: How Drosophila navigate complex, intermittent odor plumes

March 27, 2020

Picture the smoke from a lit cigarette: in a few seconds, the plume disperses from a slowly meandering stream into a patchwork of disconnected filaments diffusing into the air. This type of odor signal — spatially complex, unpredictable, gradient-less – is typical of natural odor landscapes. In a new preprint, posted on bioRxiv , we explore how animals can navigate such plumes when other sensory inputs such as vision have been removed. Mahmut has developed an olfactory assay for Drosophila that allows us to visualize, in realtime, a  complex, fluctuating  odor signal simultaneously with fly behavior. Using dynamical models and inference, we quantify the strategies that flies use to successfully track these complex plumes to their source. 

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