Scientists from the University of Goettingen and their japanese colleagues recently discovered that hearing and gravity-sensing in flys is located in the same sense organ in the antennae of the insect. Two different neurones at the antenna basis are mechanically (by acoustic noise and movements) stimulated. This allows the fly to sense the gravity as well as hearing with just one sense organ.

Using the fruitfly (Drosophila melanogaster) for their experiments the study adressed the question how the 500 sensory neurones at the basis of the antenna can measure vibrations of the antenna caused by acoustic noise and the mechanical stimulation by earth gravitation at the same time.


A state of the art measurement technology (dye imaging) was applied. With this approach the scientists showed that there are two functionally different working neurones at the antenna basis: those neurones reacting to slow and enduring stimulation caused by the gravitation send information to the fly brain. They performe the sense of balance. Those reacting to high frequency stimulation by acoustic noise are part of the acoustic organ.



A. Kamikouchi, H.K. Inagaki, T. Effertz, O. Hendrich, A. Fiala, M.C. G