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Reconstruction of motor control circuits in adult Drosophila using automated transmission electron microscopy

By Jasper T. Maniates-Selvin, David Grant Colburn Hildebrand, Brett J. Graham, Aaron T. Kuan, Logan A. Thomas, Tri Nguyen, Julia Buhmann, Anthony W. Azevedo, Brendan L Shanny, Jan Funke, John C. Tuthill, Wei-Chung Allen Lee

Posted 11 Jan 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.10.902478

Many animals use coordinated limb movements to interact with and navigate through the environment. To investigate circuit mechanisms underlying locomotor behavior, we used serial-section electron microscopy (EM) to map synaptic connectivity within a neuronal network that controls limb movements. We present a synapse-resolution EM dataset containing the ventral nerve cord (VNC) of an adult female Drosophila melanogaster . To generate this dataset, we developed GridTape, a technology that combines automated serial-section collection with automated high-throughput transmission EM. Using this dataset, we reconstructed 507 motor neurons, including all those that control the legs and wings. We show that a specific class of leg sensory neurons directly synapse onto the largest-caliber motor neuron axons on both sides of the body, representing a unique feedback pathway for fast limb control. We provide open access to the dataset and reconstructions registered to a standard atlas to permit matching of cells between EM and light microscopy data. We also provide GridTape instrumentation designs and software to make large-scale EM data acquisition more accessible and affordable to the scientific community.

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