The effects of a bacterial endotoxin on behavior and sensory-cns-motor circuits in drosophila melanogaster

Oscar Istas, Abigail Greenhalgh, Robin Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The effect of bacterial sepsis on animal behavior and physiology is complex due to direct and indirect actions. The most common form of bacterial sepsis in humans is from gram-negative bacterial strains. The endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS) and/or associated peptidoglycans from the bacteria are the key agents to induce an immune response, which then produces a cascade of immunological consequences. However, there are direct actions of LPS and associated peptidoglycans on cells which are commonly overlooked. This study showed behavioral and neural changes in larval Drosophila fed commercially obtained LPS from Serratia marcescens. Locomotor behavior was not altered, but feeding behavior increased and responses to sensory tactile stimuli were decreased. In driving a sensory-central nervous system (CNS)-motor neural circuit in in-situ preparations, direct application of commercially obtained LPS initially increased evoked activity and then decreased and even stopped evoked responses in a dose-dependent manner. With acute LPS and associated peptidoglycans exposure (10 min), the depressed neural responses recovered within a few minutes after removal of LPS. Commercially obtained LPS induces a transitory hyperpolarization of the body wall muscles within seconds of exposure and alters activity within the CNS circuit. Thus, LPS and/or associated peptidoglycans have direct effects on body wall muscle without a secondary immune response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Bacteria
  • Drosophila
  • Integration
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Motor
  • Peptidoglycans
  • Sensory
  • Synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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