Auer group publications


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Original research articles

* co-first authors, ° co-corresponding authors, # co-lead authors



Takagi S*,°, Abuin L, Stupski SD, Arguello JR, Prieto-Godino LL, Stern DL, Cruchet S, Alvarez-Ocana R, van Breugel F, Auer TO*,°,#, Benton R*,#. Sensory neuron population expansion enhances odour tracking through relaxed projection neuron adaptation. bioRxiv. (

Here we investigate the genetic basis, physiological consequence and behavioural impact of olfactory sensory neuron number expansion. We show that the increase of peripheral sensory neurons is a complex genetic trait and leads to loss of second order habituation in D. sechellia compared to D. melanogaster. Moreover, it contributes to enhanced odour tracking. Our study delivers first mechanistic insights into how neural circuit architecture affects signal processing in the olfactory system.


Ellis KE, Bervoets S, Smihula H, Ganguly I, Vigato E, Auer TO, Benton R, Litwin-Kumar A, Caron SJC. Evolution of connectivity architecture in the Drosophila mushroom body. bioRxiv (


Álvarez-Ocaña R, Shahandeh MP, Ray V, Auer TO, Gompel N, Benton R. Odor-regulated oviposition behavior in an ecological specialist. Nature Com. (



Auer TO*, Álvarez-Ocaña R*, Cruchet S, Benton R, Arguello JR. Copy number changes in co-expressed odorant receptor genes enable selection for sensory differences in drosophilid species. Nature Ecology and Evolution (

In this study, we investigate how copy number variation in olfactory receptor genes contributes to evolutionary adjustments of odor tuning across species. Contrary to the widely accepted view that olfactory sensory neurons express a single tuning receptor, we show that this is not necessarily evolutionary conserved and positive selection acts on multiple, co-expressed copies in closely related species of D. melanogaster.



Mika K, Cruchet S, Chai PC, Prieto-Godino LL, Auer TO, Pradervand S, Benton R. Olfactory receptor-dependent receptor repression in Drosophila. Sci Adv. (



Khallaf MA, Auer TO, Grabe V, Depetris-Chauvin A, Ammagarahalli B, Zhang DD, Lavista-Llanos S, Kaftan F, Weißflog J, Matzkin LM, Rollmann SM, Löfstedt C, Svatoš A, Dweck HKM, Sachse S, Benton R, Hansson BS, Knaden M. Mate discrimination among subspecies through a conserved olfactory pathway. Sci Adv. (

Here we use four subspecies of Drosophila mojavensis as model to study the role of pheromone signaling in speciation. We identify male specific pheromones that differ between subspecies. Surprisingly, the corresponding female pheromone detecting pathways are conserved. This indicates that subspecies-specific behaviors arise from differential central interpretation of the same peripheral cues. Our study is an important example for how behaviors can evolve through divergence at various levels.


Auer TO°, Khallaf MA, Silbering AF, Zappia G, Ellis K, Álvarez-Ocaña R, Arguello JR, Hansson BS, Jefferis GSXE, Caron SC, Knaden M, Benton R°. Olfactory receptor and circuit evolution promote host specialisation. Nature. (

In this study, we establish D. sechellia as a neurogenetic model species to study behavioral evolution. We investigate, by the use of genetic tools, which olfactory pathways contribute to the increased attraction of D. sechellia to its host fruit. We test the causal role of selected residue changes within one olfactory receptor to behavioral phenotypes and identify neuroanatomical changes in the periphery and the central brain. This is an intriguing example of how genes, neurons and circuits are linked to an ecologically relevant behavior.



Gebhardt C, Auer TO, Henriques PM, Rajan G, Duroure K, Bianco IH, Del Bene F. An interhemispheric neural circuit allowing binocular integration in the optic tectum. Nature Com. (


Bercier V, Hubbard JM, Fidelin K, Duroure K, Auer TO, Revenu C, Wyart C, Del Bene F. Dynactin1 depletion leads to neuromuscular synapse instability and functional abnormalities. Molecular Neurodeg. (



Di Donato V, De Santis F, Albadri S, Auer TO, Duroure K, Charpentier M, Concordet JP, Gebhardt C, Del Bene F. An Attractive Reelin Gradient Establishes Synaptic Lamination in the Vertebrate Visual System. Neuron. (


Sánchez-Alcañiz JA, Silbering AF, Croset V, Zappia G, Sivasubramaniam AK, Abuin L, Sahai SY, Münch D, Steck K, Auer TO, Cruchet S, Neagu-Maier GL, Sprecher SG, Ribeiro C, Yapici N, Benton R. An expression atlas of variant ionotropic glutamate receptors identifies a molecular basis of carbonation sensing. Nature Com. (


Djenoune L, Desban L, Gomez J, Sternberg JR, Prendergast A, Langui D, Quan FB, Marnas H, Auer TO, Rio JP, Del Bene F, Bardet PL, Wyart C. The dual developmental origin of spinal cerebrospinal fluid-contacting neurons gives rise to distinct functional subtypes. Sci Rep. (


Sutcliffe B, Ng J, Auer TO, Pasche M, Benton R, Jefferis GS, Cachero S. Second-Generation Drosophila Chemical Tags: Sensitivity, Versatility, and Speed. Genetics. (



Di Donato V*, De Santis F*, Auer TO, Testa N, Sánchez-Iranzo H, Mercader N, Concordet JP, Del Bene F. 2C-Cas9: a versatile tool for clonal analysis of gene function. Genome Res. (



Auer TO*°, Xiao T*, Bercier V, Gebhardt C, Duroure K, Concordet JP, Wyart C, Suster M, Kawakami K, Wittbrodt J, Baier H, Del Bene F°. Deletion of a kinesin I motor unmasks a mechanism of homeostatic branching control by neurotrophin-3. Elife (



Auer TO°, Duroure K, Concordet JP, Del Bene F°. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated conversion of eGFP- into Gal4-transgenic lines in zebrafish. Nat Protoc. (


Spivakov M*, Auer TO*, Peravali R, Dunham I, Dolle D, Fujiyama A, Toyoda A, Aizu T, Minakuchi Y, Loosli F, Naruse K, Birney E, Wittbrodt J. Genomic and phenotypic characterization of a wild medaka population: towards the establishment of an isogenic population genetic resource in fish. G3 (Bethesda) (


Auer TO, Duroure K, De Cian A, Concordet JP, Del Bene F. Highly efficient CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock-in in zebrafish by homology-independent DNA repair. Genome Res(



Di Donato V*, Auer TO*, Duroure K, Del Bene F. Characterization of the calcium binding protein family in zebrafish. PLoS One (



ENCODE Project Consortium. An integrated encyclopedia of DNA elements in the human genome. Nature. (



Mongin E*, Auer TO*, Bourrat F, Gruhl F, Dewar K, Blanchette M, Wittbrodt J, Ettwiller L. Combining computational prediction of cis-regulatory elements with a new enhancer assay to efficiently label neuronal structures in the medaka fish. PLoS One (





Prieto-Godino LL#, Auer TO#. Cracking the encoding of human scent in the mosquito brain. Trends in Neurosciences. (



Auer TO*, Shahandeh MP*, Benton R. Drosophila sechellia: a genetic model for behavioral evolution and neuroecology. Ann Rev Genetics ( 071719-020719)                                                                                                                                                             

In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the genetic causes of trait evolution throughout the life history stages of D. sechellia. We present past, current and future methods to study the genetics of behavioral evolution and highlight areas of future research.



Baden T, Maina MB, Chagas AM, Garba YM, Auer TO, Silbering A, von Tobel L, Pertin M, Hartig R, Aleksic J, Akinrinade I, Awadelkareem MA, Koumoundourou A, Jones A, Arieti F, Beale A, Münch D, Salek SC, Yusuf S, Prieto-Godino LL. TReND in Africa: Towards a truly global (neuro)science community. Neuron (



Auer TO°, Del Bene F°. Homology-Independent Integration of Plasmid DNA into the Zebrafish Genome. Methods Mol Biol., (


Auer TO, Benton R. Sexual circuitry in Drosophila. Curr Opin Neurobiol. (



Auer TO°, Del Bene F°. CRISPR/Cas9 and TALEN-mediated knock-in approaches in zebrafish. Methods (