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Just a brief Monday Micro today as it will soon be Tuesday!

First up, what looks like quite a neat paper just out in the [Elsevier] journal Cell. Alas, its not open access so I’ve just read the abstract and write up on Science Daily. Marcus Stensmyr and colleagues at the Max Plank Institute for Chemical Ecology have found that fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) have a dedicated neural circuit to detect rotten food.

Because fruit flies feed primarily on yeast growing on fermenting fruit, they need to be able to distinguish fruit with safe yeast from fruit containing toxic microbes. Turns out they do this by sniffing out geosmin, a chemical produced by harmful bacteria and fungi.

What I like about this paper is the fact that the authors have made real efforts to communicate their science beyond the actual publication. They have made a short video explaining their results which is available to view on their institutions webpage here. It’s a little too full of jargon for my liking but a great effort nonetheless. Marcus also appears to be a dab hand at modelling clay and has made some great graphical representations of the work such as this below:

Copyright Marcus Stensmyr


Marcus C. Stensmyr, Hany K.M. Dweck, Abu Farhan, Irene Ibba, Antonia Strutz, Latha Mukunda, Jeanine Linz, Veit Grabe, Kathrin Steck, Sofia Lavista-Llanos, Dieter Wicher, Silke Sachse, Markus Knaden, Paul G. Becher, Yoichi Seki, Bill S. Hansson. A Conserved Dedicated Olfactory Circuit for Detecting Harmful Microbes in Drosophila. Cell, 2012; 151 (6): 1345 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.09.046