Interactions among Drosophila larvae before and during collision.

Sci Rep.
August 2016
Otto N
Risse B
Berh D
Bittern J
Jiang X
Klämbt C

In populations of Drosophila larvae, both, an aggregation and a dispersal behavior can be observed. However, the mechanisms coordinating larval locomotion in respect to other animals, especially in close proximity and during/after physical contacts are currently only little understood. Here we test whether relevant information is perceived before or during larva-larva contacts, analyze its influence on behavior and ask whether larvae avoid or pursue collisions. Employing frustrated total internal reflection-based imaging (FIM) we first found that larvae visually detect other moving larvae in a narrow perceptive field and respond with characteristic escape reactions. To decipher larval locomotion not only before but also during the collision we utilized a two color FIM approach (FIM(2c)), which allowed to faithfully extract the posture and motion of colliding animals. We show that during collision, larval locomotion freezes and sensory information is sampled during a KISS phase (german: Kollisions Induziertes Stopp Syndrom or english: collision induced stop syndrome). Interestingly, larvae react differently to living, dead or artificial larvae, discriminate other Drosophila species and have an increased bending probability for a short period after the collision terminates. Thus, Drosophila larvae evolved means to specify behaviors in response to other larvae.