The propensity for consuming ethanol in Drosophila requires rutabaga adenylyl cyclase expression within mushroom body neurons


G. Roman, Department Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun St, Houston, TX 77204-5001, USA. E-mail:


Alcohol activates reward systems through an unknown mechanism, in some cases leading to alcohol abuse and dependence. Herein, we utilized a two-choice Capillary Feeder assay to address the neural and molecular basis for ethanol self-administration in Drosophila melanogaster. Wild-type Drosophila shows a significant preference for food containing between 5% and 15% ethanol. Preferred ethanol self-administration does not appear to be due to caloric advantage, nor due to perceptual biases, suggesting a hedonic bias for ethanol exists in Drosophila. Interestingly, rutabaga adenylyl cyclase expression within intrinsic mushroom body neurons is necessary for robust ethanol self-administration. The expression of rutabaga in mushroom bodies is also required for both appetitive and aversive olfactory associative memories, suggesting that reinforced behavior has an important role in the ethanol self-administration in Drosophila. However, rutabaga expression is required more broadly within the mushroom bodies for the preference for ethanol-containing food than for olfactory memories reinforced by sugar reward. Together these data implicate cAMP signaling and behavioral reinforcement for preferred ethanol self-administration in D. melanogaster.