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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Transcriptional basis of the acclimation to high environmental temperature at the olfactory receptor organs of Drosophila melanogaster

Jacob Riveron12, Tamara Boto13 and Esther Alcorta1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Functional Biology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, 33006, Spain

2 Present address: Vector Group, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke PI, Liverpool, Merseyside, L3 5QA, UK

3 Present address: Department of Neuroscience, The Scripps Research Institute, Jupiter, Florida, 33458, USA

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:259  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-259

Published: 17 April 2013



Environmental temperature directly affects the concentrations of chemicals in the gas phase. Therefore, if the olfactory system does not physiologically adapt to environmental conditions, it may provide inadequate information about the distance to or direction of odor sources. Previous reports have shown at the behavioral level that temperature induces changes in olfactory sensitivity in Drosophila melanogaster. These changes are initiated in the main olfactory receptor organs, the antennae. In this work, we attempted to identify the particular genes responsible for olfactory adaptation to increasing temperatures in these organs based on current knowledge of the molecular basis of olfactory reception.


Whole-genome transcriptional responses to transitory temperature shifts from 21-30°C were analyzed in the third antennal segments of Drosophila. More than 53% of the genome was expressed in these organs; this percentage increased slightly (55%) after heat treatment. However, the expression levels increased for 26%, decreased for 21% and remained constant for 53% of the expressed genes. Analysis of the changes produced in 389 genes related to heat response and olfactory reception, according to the current functional annotations of the Drosophila gene set, showed significant differences in 95 of these genes, which are involved in the heat response (23), perireceptor events in olfaction (50), olfactory and gustatory receptors (18) and G-proteins and transduction cascades (4).


Gene expression was altered in response to environmental heat in the antennae of Drosophila by increasing or decreasing expression. Different acclimation patterns emerged for reception through the basiconic, trichoid and coeloconic sensilla. Changes in genes with a central role in olfactory reception, such as orco, may account for part of the acclimation reported at the behavioral level.

Olfaction; Olfactory acclimation; Olfactory reception; Environmental temperature; Drosophila melanogaster; Microarray analysis; Olfactory reception genes