Ethanol-induced locomotor stimulation has been variously described as reflective of the disinhibitory, euphoric, or reinforcing effects of ethanol and is commonly used as an index of acute ethanol sensitivity in rodents. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster also shows a locomotor stimulant response to ethanol that is believed to occur via conserved, ethanol-sensitive neurobiological mechanisms, but it is currently unknown whether this response is conserved among arthropod species or is idiosyncratic to D. melanogaster. The current experiments surveyed locomotor responses to ethanol in a phylogenetically diverse panel of insects and other arthropod species. A clear ethanol-induced locomotor stimulant response was seen in 9 of 13 Drosophilidae species tested, in 8 of 10 other species of insects, and in an arachnid (wolf spider) and a myriapod (millipede) species. Given the diverse phylogenies of the species that showed the response, these experiments support the hypothesis that locomotor stimulation is a conserved behavioral response to ethanol among arthropod species. Further comparative studies are needed to determine whether the specific neurobiological mechanisms known to underlie the stimulant response in D. melanogaster are conserved among arthropod and vertebrate species.

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