The Drosophila ventral nerve cord (VNC) receives and processes descending signals from the brain to produce a variety of coordinated locomotor outputs. It also integrates sensory information from the periphery and sends ascending signals to the brain. We used single-cell transcriptomics to generate an unbiased classification of cellular diversity in the VNC of five-day old adult flies. We produced an atlas of 26,000 high-quality cells, representing more than 100 transcriptionally distinct cell types. The predominant gene signatures defining neuronal cell types reflect shared developmental histories based on the neuroblast from which cells were derived, as well as their birth order. The relative position of cells along the anterior-posterior axis could also be assigned using adult Hox gene expression. This single-cell transcriptional atlas of the adult fly VNC will be a valuable resource for future studies of neurodevelopment and behavior.
D. melanogaster, genetics, genomics, nervous system, neuroscience, single-cell transcriptomics, ventral nerve cord