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The project aims to reconstruct neurons and their connections from a recently completed whole brain electron microscopy volume of the adult Drosophila melanogaster brain obtained at HHMI Janelia Research Campus in the US. The goal is to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the neural circuit basis of memory storage and retrieval, focused on the olfactory system.

The project is a collaboration with co-applicants Janelia, the MRC LMB in Cambridge and the University of Oxford Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour.

Current research topics include:

  • To trace the circuits (neurons and their up- and downstream partners) involved in innate olfactory behaviour and analysing how these relate to specific olfactory stimuli and their valence.

  • To reconstruct the olfactory circuits that input and output onto the associative memory centre (mushroom body), to understand how memories are stored, retrieved and affected by the internal state of the fly and valence of the stimuli.

  • To identify the thermosensory and hygrosensory circuits, from first order neurons (olfactory projection neurons) to higher brain centres, and understand how these circuits interact with innate and associative memory.

Key Publications

Alexander S. Bates*, Philipp Schlegel*, Ruairi J.V. Roberts, Nikolas Drummond, Imaan F.M. Tamimi, Robert Turnbull, Xincheng Zhao, Elizabeth C. Marin, Patricia D. Popovici, Serene Dhawan, Arian Jamasb, Alexandre Javier, Laia Serratosa Capdevila, Feng Li, Gerald M. Rubin, Scott Waddell, Davi D. Bock, Marta Costa and Gregory S.X.E. Jefferis (2020) Complete Connectomic Reconstruction of Olfactory Projection Neurons in the Fly BrainCurrent Biology

Elizabeth C. Marin, Laurin Büld, Maria Theiss, Tatevik Sarkissian, Ruairí J.V. Roberts, Robert Turnbull, Imaan F.M. Tamimi, Markus W. Pleijzier, Willem J. Laursen, Nik Drummond, Philipp Schlegel, Alexander S. Bates, Feng Li, Matthias Landgraf, Marta Costa, Davi D. Bock, Paul A. Garrity and Gregory S.X.E. Jefferis (2020) Connectomics Analysis Reveals First-, Second-, and Third-Order Thermosensory and Hygrosensory Neurons in the Adult Drosophila Brain, Current Biology

Nils Otto, Markus W. Pleijzier, Isabel C. Morgan, Amelia J. Edmondson-Stait, Konrad J. Heinz, Ildiko Stark, Georgia Dempsey, Masayoshi Ito, Ishaan Kapoor, Joseph Hsu, Philipp M. Schlegel, Alexander S. Bates, Li Feng, Marta Costa, Kei Ito, Davi D. Bock, Gerald M. Rubin, Gregory S.X.E. Jefferis and Scott Waddell (2020) Input Connectivity Reveals Additional Heterogeneity of Dopaminergic Reinforcement in DrosophilaCurrent Biology

P Schlegel, M Costa, GSXE Jefferis (2017) Learning from Connectomics on the fly, Current Opinion in Insect Science24:96–105.

E Marin & M Costa (2017) Sensory Neurobiology: Wet Fly FishingCurrent Biology27:R833–R852. 


Paavo Huoviala, Michael-John Dolan, Fiona M. Love Shahar Frechter, Ruairí J.V. Roberts, Zane Mitrevica, Philipp Schlegel, Alexander Shakeel Bates, Yoshinori Aso, Tiago Rodrigues, Hannah Cornwall, Marcus Stensmyr, Davi Bock, Gerald M. Rubin, Marta Costa, Gregory S.X.E. Jefferis (2018) Neural circuit basis of aversive odour processing in Drosophila from sensory input to descending output, bioRxiv




Contact Details

Group Leaders

Dr Gregory Jefferis
01223 (2)67048

Dr Matthias Landgraf
01223 (7)69348

Dr Marta Costa
01223 (3)34455

Department of Zoology
University of Cambridge
Downing St


Group Members