Recognition of environmental cues is essential for the survival of all organisms. Precise transcriptional changes occur to enable the generation and function of the neural circuits underlying sensory perception. To gain insight into these changes, we generated single-cell transcriptomes of Drosophila olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs), thermosensory and hygrosensory neurons from the third antennal segment at an early developmental and adult stage. We discovered that ORNs maintain expression of the same olfactory receptors across development. Using these receptors and computational approaches, we matched transcriptomic clusters corresponding to anatomically and physiologically defined neuronal types across multiple developmental stages. Cell-type-specific transcriptomes, in part, reflected axon trajectory choices in early development and sensory modality in adults. Our analysis also uncovered type-specific and broadly expressed genes that could modulate adult sensory responses. Collectively, our data reveal important transcriptomic features of sensory neuron biology and provides a resource for future studies of their development and physiology.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience