Computational techniques developed to predict if odorants will interact with receptors in the olfactory system have achieved a success rate of 70%.
Odorant receptors; antenna; electrophysiology; cheminformatics; D. melanogaster
Host plant choice is of vital importance for egg laying herbivorous insects that do not exhibit brood care. Several aspects, including palatability, nutritional quality and predation risk, have been found to modulate host preference. Olfactory cues are thought to enable host location. However, experimental data on odor features that allow choosing among alternative hosts while still in flight are not available. It has previously been shown that M. sexta females prefer Datura wrightii compared to Nicotiana attenuata. The bouquet of the latter is more intense and contains compounds typically emitted by plants after feeding-damage to attract the herbivore’s enemies. In this wind tunnel study, we offered female gravid hawkmoths (Manduca sexta) odors from these two ecologically relevant, attractive, non-flowering host species. M. sexta females preferred surrogate leaves scented with vegetative odors form both host species to unscented control leaves. Given a choice between species, females preferred the odor bouquet emitted by D. wrightii to that of N. attenuata. Harmonizing, i.e. adjusting, volatile intensity to similar levels did not abolish but significantly weakened this preference. Superimposing, i.e. mixing, the highly attractive headspaces of both species, however, abolished discrimination between scented and non-scented surrogate leaves. Beyond ascertaining the role of blend composition in host plant choice, our results raise the following hypotheses. (i) The odor of a host species is perceived as a discrete odor ‘Gestalt’, and its core properties are lost upon mixing two attractive scents (ii). Stimulus intensity is a secondary feature affecting olfactory-based host choice (iii). Constitutively smelling like a plant that is attracting herbivore enemies may be part of a plant’s strategy to avoid herbivory where alternative hosts are available to the herbivore.
The olfactory response of the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster to food odor is modulated by starvation. Here we show that this modulation is not restricted to food odors and their detecting sensory neurons but rather increases the behavioral response to odors as different as food odors, repellents and pheromones. The increased behavioral responsiveness is paralleled by an increased physiological sensitivity of sensory neurons regardless whether they express olfactory or ionotropic receptors and regardless whether they are housed in basiconic, coeloconic, or trichoid sensilla. Silencing several genes that become up-regulated under starvation confirmed the involvement of the short neuropeptide f receptor in the starvation effect. In addition it revealed that the CCHamide-1 receptor is another important factor governing starvation-induced olfactory modifications.
Insects pinpoint mates, food and oviposition sites by olfactory cues. Recognizing and localizing a suitable target by olfaction is demanding. Odor sources emit characteristic blends of compounds that have to be identified against an environmentally derived olfactory background. This background, however, does not necessarily disturb the localization of a source. Rather, the contrary. Sex pheromones become more attractive to male moths when being presented against a relevant plant background. Here we asked whether such olfactory coaction also characterizes foraging cues. The tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta feeds on nectar from wild tobacco Nicotiana attenuata and sacred datura Datura wrightii flowers. We tested how leaf-derived volatile blends as a background affect the moths' approach to flower blends. We found coaction when a flower blend was presented against a conspecific leaf volatile background but not when the blend was presented against volatiles emitted by the other host plant or by a non-host plant. Hence, our results reveal a species-specific coaction between flower blend and leaf volatile background. The ability to integrate information from different odor sources on one plant might provide the moth with a fine-grained analysis of food site quality.
Culex quinquefasciatus (the Southern house mosquito) is an important mosquito vector of viruses such as West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis virus as well of nematodes that cause lymphatic filariasis. It is one species within the Culex pipiens species complex and enjoys a distribution throughout tropical and temperate climates of the world. The ability of C. quinquefasciatus to take blood meals from birds, livestock and humans contributes to its ability to vector pathogens between species. We describe the genomic sequence of C. quinquefasciatus, its repertoire of 18,883 protein-coding genes is 22% larger than Ae. aegypti and 52% larger than An. gambiae with multiple gene family expansions including olfactory and gustatory receptors, salivary gland genes, and genes associated with xenobiotic detoxification.
Divergence in host adaptive traits has been well studied from an ecological and evolutionary perspective, but identification of the proximate mechanisms underlying such divergence is less well understood. Behavioral preferences for host plants are often mediated by olfaction and shifts in preference may be accompanied by changes in the olfactory system. In this study, we examine the evolution of host plant preferences in cactophilic Drosophila mojavensis that feeds and breeds on different cacti throughout its range. We show divergence in electrophysiological responses and olfactory behavior among populations with host plant shifts. Specifically, significant divergence was observed in the Mojave Desert population that specializes on barrel cactus. Differences were observed in electrophysiological responses of the olfactory organs and in behavioral responses to barrel cactus volatiles. Together our results suggest that the peripheral nervous system has changed in response to different ecological environments and that these changes likely contribute to divergence among D. mojavensis populations.
Desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, are equipped with remarkable skills that enable them to navigate efficiently. When travelling between the nest and a previously visited feeding site, they perform path integration (PI), but pinpoint the nest or feeder by following odour plumes. Homing ants respond to nest plumes only when the path integrator indicates that they are near home. This is crucial, as homing ants often pass through plumes emanating from foreign nests and do not discriminate between the plume of their own and that of a foreign nest, but should absolutely avoid entering a wrong nest. Their behaviour towards food odours differs greatly. Here, we show that in ants on the way to food, olfactory information outweighs PI information. Although PI guides ants back to a learned feeder, the ants respond to food odours independently of whether or not they are close to the learned feeding site. This ability is beneficial, as new food sources—unlike foreign nests—never pose a threat but enable ants to shorten distances travelled while foraging. While it has been shown that navigating C. fortis ants rely strongly on PI, we report here that the ants retained the necessary flexibility in the use of PI.
Cataglyphis; path integration; odour plume; homing; foraging; navigation
Manduca sexta; plant volatiles; oviposition; Ca imaging; Datura wrightii; Other
Finding appropriate feeding and breeding sites is crucial for all insects. To fulfil this vital task, many insects rely on their sense of smell. Alterations in the habitat—or in lifestyle—should accordingly also be reflected in the olfactory system. Solid functional evidence for direct adaptations in the olfactory system is however scarce. We have, therefore, examined the sense of smell of Drosophila erecta, a close relative of Drosophila melanogaster and specialist on screw pine fruits (Pandanus spp.). In comparison with three sympatric sibling species, D. erecta shows specific alterations in its olfactory system towards detection and processing of a characteristic Pandanus volatile (3-methyl-2-butenyl acetate, 3M2BA). We show that D. erecta is more sensitive towards this substance, and that the increased sensitivity derives from a numerical increase of one olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) class. We also show that axons from these OSNs form a complex of enlarged glomeruli in the antennal lobe, the first olfactory brain centre, of D. erecta. Finally, we show that 3M2BA induces oviposition in D. erecta, but not in D. melanogaster. The presumed adaptations observed here follow to a remarkable degree those found in Drosophila sechellia, a specialist upon noni fruit, and suggest a general principle for how specialization affects the sense of smell.
insect olfaction; specialization; Drosophila; oviposition
The ability to decrypt volatile plant signals is essential if herbivorous insects are to optimize their choice of host plants for their offspring. Green leaf volatiles (GLVs) constitute a widespread group of defensive plant volatiles that convey a herbivory-specific message via their isomeric composition: feeding of the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta converts (Z)-3- to (E)-2-GLVs thereby attracting predatory insects. Here we show that this isomer-coded message is monitored by ovipositing M. sexta females. We detected the isomeric shift in the host plant Datura wrightii and performed functional imaging in the primary olfactory center of M. sexta females with GLV structural isomers. We identified two isomer-specific regions responding to either (Z)-3- or (E)-2-hexenyl acetate. Field experiments demonstrated that ovipositing Manduca moths preferred (Z)-3-perfumed D. wrightii over (E)-2-perfumed plants. These results show that (E)-2-GLVs and/or specific (Z)-3/(E)-2-ratios provide information regarding host plant attack by conspecifics that ovipositing hawkmoths use for host plant selection.
Plants have developed a variety of strategies to defend themselves against herbivorous animals, particularly insects. In addition to mechanical defences such as thorns and spines, plants also produce compounds known as secondary metabolites that keep insects and other herbivores at bay by acting as repellents or toxins. Some of these metabolites are produced on a continuous basis by plants, whereas others—notably compounds called green-leaf volatiles—are only produced once the plant has been attacked. Green-leaf volatiles—which are also responsible for the smell of freshly cut grass—have been observed to provide plants with both direct protection, by inhibiting or repelling herbivores, and indirect protection, by attracting predators of the herbivores themselves.
The hawkmoth Manduca sexta lays its eggs on various plants, including tobacco plants and sacred Datura plants. Once the eggs have hatched into caterpillars, they start eating the leaves of their host plant, and if present in large numbers, these caterpillars can quickly defoliate and destroy it. In an effort to defend itself, the host plant releases green-leaf volatiles to attract various species of Geocoris, and these bugs eat the eggs.
One of the green-leaf volatiles released by tobacco plants is known as (Z)-3-hexenal, but enzymes released by M. sexta caterpillars change some of these molecules into (E)-2-hexenal, which has the same chemical formula but a different structure. The resulting changes in the ‘volatile profile’ alerts Geocoris bugs to the presence of M. sexta eggs and caterpillars on the plant.
Now Allmann et al. show that adult female M. sexta moths can also detect similar changes in the volatile profile emitted by sacred Datura plants that have been damaged by M. sexta caterpillars. This alerts the moths to the fact that Geocoris bugs are likely to be attacking eggs and caterpillars on the plant, or on their way to the plant, so they lay their eggs on other plants. This reduces competition for resources and also reduces the risk of newly laid eggs being eaten by predators. Allmann et al. also identified the neural mechanism that allows moths to detect changes in the volatile profile of plants—the E- and Z- odours lead to different activation patterns in the moth brain.
Manduca sexta; plant volatiles; oviposition; Ca imaging; Datura wrightii; Other
The mechanisms of insect odor transduction are still controversial. Insect odorant receptors (ORs) are 7TM receptors with inverted membrane topology. They colocalize with a conserved coreceptor (Orco) with chaperone and ion channel function. Some studies suggest that insects employ exclusively ionotropic odor transduction via OR-Orco heteromers. Other studies provide evidence for different metabotropic odor transduction cascades, which employ second messenger-gated ion channel families for odor transduction. The hawkmoth Manduca sexta is an established model organism for studies of insect olfaction, also due to the availability of the hawkmoth-specific pheromone blend with its main component bombykal. Previous patch-clamp studies on primary cell cultures of M. sexta olfactory receptor neurons provided evidence for a pheromone-dependent activation of a phospholipase Cβ. Pheromone application elicited a sequence of one rapid, apparently IP3-dependent, transient and two slower Ca2+-dependent inward currents. It remains unknown whether additionally an ionotropic pheromone-transduction mechanism is employed. If indeed an OR-Orco ion channel complex underlies an ionotropic mechanism, then Orco agonist-dependent opening of the OR-Orco channel pore should add up to pheromone-dependent opening of the pore. Here, in tip-recordings from intact pheromone-sensitive sensilla, perfusion with the Orco agonist VUAA1 did not increase pheromone-responses within the first 1000 ms. However, VUAA1 increased spontaneous activity of olfactory receptor neurons Zeitgebertime- and dose-dependently. We conclude that we find no evidence for an Orco-dependent ionotropic pheromone transduction cascade in M. sexta. Instead, in M. sexta Orco appears to be a slower, second messenger-dependent pacemaker channel which affects kinetics and threshold of pheromone-detection via changes of intracellular Ca2+ baseline concentrations.
The European spruce bark beetle, Ips typographus, and the North American mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae), are severe pests of coniferous forests. Both bark beetle species utilize aggregation pheromones to coordinate mass-attacks on host trees, while odorants from host and non-host trees modulate the pheromone response. Thus, the bark beetle olfactory sense is of utmost importance for fitness. However, information on the genes underlying olfactory detection has been lacking in bark beetles and is limited in Coleoptera. We assembled antennal transcriptomes from next-generation sequencing of I. typographus and D. ponderosae to identify members of the major chemosensory multi-gene families.
Gene ontology (GO) annotation indicated that the relative abundance of transcripts associated with specific GO terms was highly similar in the two species. Transcripts with terms related to olfactory function were found in both species. Focusing on the chemosensory gene families, we identified 15 putative odorant binding proteins (OBP), 6 chemosensory proteins (CSP), 3 sensory neuron membrane proteins (SNMP), 43 odorant receptors (OR), 6 gustatory receptors (GR), and 7 ionotropic receptors (IR) in I. typographus; and 31 putative OBPs, 11 CSPs, 3 SNMPs, 49 ORs, 2 GRs, and 15 IRs in D. ponderosae. Predicted protein sequences were compared with counterparts in the flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, the cerambycid beetle, Megacyllene caryae, and the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. The most notable result was found among the ORs, for which large bark beetle-specific expansions were found. However, some clades contained receptors from all four beetle species, indicating a degree of conservation among some coleopteran OR lineages. Putative GRs for carbon dioxide and orthologues for the conserved antennal IRs were included in the identified receptor sets.
The protein families important for chemoreception have now been identified in three coleopteran species (four species for the ORs). Thus, this study allows for improved evolutionary analyses of coleopteran olfaction. Identification of these proteins in two of the most destructive forest pests, sharing many semiochemicals, is especially important as they might represent novel targets for population control.
Ips typographus; Dendroctonus ponderosae; Gene ontology; Transcriptome; Odorant receptor; Ionotropic receptor; Gustatory receptor; Odorant binding protein; Chemosensory Protein; Sensory neuron membrane protein
Insects possess one of the most exquisitely sensitive olfactory systems in the animal kingdom, consisting of three different types of chemosensory receptors: ionotropic glutamate-like receptors (IRs), gustatory receptors (GRs) and odorant receptors (ORs). Both insect ORs and IRs are ligand-gated ion channels, but ORs possess a unique configuration composed of an odorant-specific protein OrX and a ubiquitous coreceptor (Orco). In addition, these two ionotropic receptors confer different tuning properties for the neurons in which they are expressed. Unlike IRs, neurons expressing ORs are more sensitive and can also be sensitized by sub-threshold concentrations of stimuli. What is the mechanistic basis for these differences in tuning? We show that intrinsic regulation of Orco enhances neuronal response to odorants and sensitizes the ORs. We also demonstrate that inhibition of metabotropic regulation prevents receptor sensitization. Our results indicate that Orco-mediated regulation of OR sensitivity provides tunable ionotropic receptors capable of detecting odors over a wider range of concentrations, providing broadened sensitivity over IRs themselves.
We investigated the navigational capabilities of the world's largest land-living arthropod, the giant robber crab Birgus latro (Anomura, Coenobitidae); this crab reaches 4 kg in weight and can reach an age of up to 60 years. Populations are distributed over small Indo-Pacific islands of the tropics, including Christmas Island (Indian Ocean). Although this species has served as a crustacean model to explore anatomical, physiological, and ecological aspects of terrestrial adaptations, few behavioral analyses of it exist. We used a GPS-based telemetric system to analyze movements of freely roaming robber crabs, the first large-scale study of any arthropod using GPS technology to monitor behavior. Although female robber crabs are known to migrate to the coast for breeding, no such observations have been recorded for male animals. In total, we equipped 55 male robber crabs with GPS tags, successfully recording more than 1,500 crab days of activity, and followed some individual animals for as long as three months. Besides site fidelity with short-distance excursions, our data reveal long-distance movements (several kilometers) between the coast and the inland rainforest. These movements are likely related to mating, saltwater drinking and foraging. The tracking patterns indicate that crabs form route memories. Furthermore, translocation experiments show that robber crabs are capable of homing over large distances. We discuss if the search behavior induced in these experiments suggests path integration as another important navigation strategy.
In the olfactory system of malacostracan crustaceans, axonal input from olfactory receptor neurons associated with aesthetascs on the animal’s first pair of antennae target primary processing centers in the median brain, the olfactory lobes. The olfactory lobes are divided into cone-shaped synaptic areas, the olfactory glomeruli where afferents interact with local olfactory interneurons and olfactory projection neurons. The local olfactory interneurons display a large diversity of neurotransmitter phenotypes including biogenic amines and neuropeptides. Furthermore, the malacostracan olfactory glomeruli are regionalized into cap, subcap, and base regions and these compartments are defined by the projection patterns of the afferent olfactory receptor neurons, the local olfactory interneurons, and the olfactory projection neurons. We wanted to know how neurons expressing A-type allatostatins (A-ASTs; synonym dip-allatostatins) integrate into this system, a large family of neuropeptides that share the C-terminal motif –YXFGLamide.
We used an antiserum that was raised against the A-type Diploptera punctata (Dip)-allatostatin I to analyse the distribution of this peptide in the brain of a terrestrial hermit crab, Coenobita clypeatus (Anomura, Coenobitidae). Allatostatin A-like immunoreactivity (ASTir) was widely distributed in the animal’s brain, including the visual system, central complex and olfactory system. We focussed our analysis on the central olfactory pathway in which ASTir was abundant in the primary processing centers, the olfactory lobes, and also in the secondary centers, the hemiellipsoid bodies. In the olfactory lobes, we further explored the spatial relationship of olfactory interneurons with ASTir to interneurons that synthesize RFamide-like peptides. We found that these two peptides are present in distinct populations of local olfactory interneurons and that their synaptic fields within the olfactory glomeruli are also mostly distinct.
We discuss our findings against the background of the known neurotransmitter complexity in the crustacean olfactory pathway and summarize what is now about the neuronal connectivity in the olfactory glomeruli. A-type allatostatins, in addition to their localization in protocerebral brain areas, seem to be involved in modulating the olfactory signal at the level of the deutocerebrum. They contribute to the complex local circuits within the crustacean olfactory glomeruli the connectivity within which as yet is completely unclear. Because the glomeruli of C. clypeatus display a distinct pattern of regionalization, their olfactory systems form an ideal model to explore the functional relevance of glomerular compartments and diversity of local olfactory interneurons for olfactory processing in crustaceans.
Coenobita clypeatus; Hermit crab; Olfactory lobe; Central complex; Neuropeptide; Immunhistochemistry; Allatostatin
Below ground orientation in insects relies mainly on olfaction and taste. The economic impact of plant root feeding scarab beetle larvae gave rise to numerous phylogenetic and ecological studies. Detailed knowledge of the sensory capacities of these larvae is nevertheless lacking. Here, we present an atlas of the sensory organs on larval head appendages of Melolontha melolontha. Our ultrastructural and electrophysiological investigations allow annotation of functions to various sensory structures.
Three out of 17 ascertained sensillum types have olfactory, and 7 gustatory function. These sensillum types are unevenly distributed between antennae and palps. The most prominent chemosensory organs are antennal pore plates that in total are innervated by approximately one thousand olfactory sensory neurons grouped into functional units of three-to-four. In contrast, only two olfactory sensory neurons innervate one sensillum basiconicum on each of the palps. Gustatory sensilla chaetica dominate the apices of all head appendages, while only the palps bear thermo-/hygroreceptors. Electrophysiological responses to CO2, an attractant for many root feeders, are exclusively observed in the antennae. Out of 54 relevant volatile compounds, various alcohols, acids, amines, esters, aldehydes, ketones and monoterpenes elicit responses in antennae and palps. All head appendages are characterized by distinct olfactory response profiles that are even enantiomer specific for some compounds.
Chemosensory capacities in M. melolontha larvae are as highly developed as in many adult insects. We interpret the functional sensory units underneath the antennal pore plates as cryptic sensilla placodea and suggest that these perceive a broad range of secondary plant metabolites together with CO2. Responses to olfactory stimulation of the labial and maxillary palps indicate that typical contact chemo-sensilla have a dual gustatory and olfactory function.
The ability to identify chemical cues in the environment is essential to most animals. Apart from marine larval stages, anomuran land hermit crabs (Coenobita) have evolved different degrees of terrestriality, and thus represent an excellent opportunity to investigate adaptations of the olfactory system needed for a successful transition from aquatic to terrestrial life. Although superb processing capacities of the central olfactory system have been indicated in Coenobita and their olfactory system evidently is functional on land, virtually nothing was known about what type of odourants are detected. Here, we used electroantennogram (EAG) recordings in Coenobita clypeatus and established the olfactory response spectrum. Interestingly, different chemical groups elicited EAG responses of opposite polarity, which also appeared for Coenobita compressus and the closely related marine hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus. Furthermore, in a two-choice bioassay with C. clypeatus, we found that water vapour was critical for natural and synthetic odourants to induce attraction or repulsion. Strikingly, also the physiological response was found much greater at higher humidity in C. clypeatus, whereas no such effect appeared in the terrestrial vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster. In conclusion, our results reveal that the Coenobita olfactory system is restricted to a limited number of water-soluble odourants, and that high humidity is most critical for its function.
olfaction; olfactory system; adaptations; terrestrial crustaceans; odourants
In mosquitoes, the olfactory system plays a crucial role in many types of behavior, including nectar feeding, host preference selection and oviposition. Aedes albopictus, known also as the tiger mosquito, is an anthropophilic species, which in the last few years, due to its strong ecological plasticity, has spread throughout the world. Although long considered only a secondary vector of viruses, the potential of its vector capacity may constitute a threat to public health. Based on the idea that an improved understanding of the olfactory system of mosquitoes may assist in the development of control methods that interfere with their behavior, we have undertaken a study aimed at characterizing the A. albopictus Odorant Receptors. Here we report the identification, cloning and functional characterization of the AalOR2 ortholog, that represents the first candidate member of the odorant receptor (OR) family of proteins from A. albopictus. AalOR2 is expressed in the larval heads and antennae of adults. Our data indicate that A. albopictus OR2 (AalOR2) shares a high degree of identity with other mosquito OR2 orthologs characterized to date, confirming that OR2 is one of the most conserved mosquito ORs. Our data indicate that AalOR2 is narrowly tuned to indole, and inhibited by (-)-menthone. In agreement with this results, these two compounds elicit two opposite effects on the olfactory-based behavior of A. albopictus larvae, as determined through a larval behavioral assay. In summary, this work has led to the cloning and de-orphaning of the first Odorant Receptor in the tiger mosquito A. albopictus. In future control strategies this receptor may be used as a potential molecular target.
Blood-feeding insects such as mosquitoes are efficient vectors of human infectious diseases because they are strongly attracted by body heat, carbon dioxide, and odours produced by their vertebrate hosts. Insect repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) are highly effective, but the mechanism by which this chemical wards off biting insects remains controversial despite decades of investigation1-11. DEET appears to act both at close range as a contact chemorepellent by acting on insect gustatory receptors12 and at long range by acting on the olfactory system1-11. Two opposing mechanisms for the observed behavioural effects of DEET in the gas phase have been proposed: that DEET interferes with the olfactory system to block host odour recognition1-7 or that DEET actively repels insects by activating olfactory neurons that elicit avoidance behaviour8-11. Here we show that the insect repellent DEET functions as a modulator of the odour-gated ion channel formed by the insect odorant receptor (OR) complex13, 14. The functional insect OR complex consists of a common co-receptor, Orco (ref. 15, formerly called Or83b, ref16), and one or more variable OR subunits that confer odour-selectivity17. DEET acts on this complex to potentiate or inhibit odour-evoked activity or to inhibit odour-evoked suppression of spontaneous activity. This modulation depends on the specific OR and the concentration and identity of the odour ligand. We identify a single amino acid polymorphism in the second transmembrane domain of Or59b in a Drosophila melanogaster strain from Brazil that renders this receptor insensitive to inhibition by the odour ligand and modulation by DEET. These data provide the first evidence that natural variation can modify the sensitivity of an odour-specific insect OR to odour ligands and DEET. Our data support the hypothesis that DEET acts as a molecular “confusant” that scrambles the insect odour code and provide a compelling explanation for the broad-spectrum efficacy of DEET against multiple insect species.
Most insects are dependent on chemical communication for activities such as mate finding or host location. Several plants, and especially orchids, mimic insect semiochemicals to attract insects for unrewarded pollination. Here, we present a new case of pheromone mimicry found in the terrestrial orchid Epipactis veratrifolia. Flowers are visited and pollinated by several species of aphidophagous hoverflies, the females of which also often lay eggs in the flowers. The oviposition behaviour of these hoverflies is mainly guided by aphid-derived kairomones. We show that the flowers produce α- and β-pinene, β-myrcene and β-phellandrene, and that these compounds attract and induce oviposition behaviour in female hoverflies. This floral odour profile is remarkably similar to the alarm pheromone released by several aphid species, such as Megoura viciae. We therefore suggest that E. veratrifolia mimics aphid alarm pheromones to attract hoverflies for pollination; this is the first time, to our knowledge, that such a case of mimicry has been demonstrated.
deceptive pollination; chemical mimicry; pheromone
How can odor-guided behavior of numerous individual Drosophila be assessed
automatically with high temporal resolution? For this purpose we introduce the
automatic integrated tracking and odor-delivery system Flywalk. In fifteen
aligned small wind tunnels individual flies are exposed to repeated odor pulses,
well defined in concentration and timing. The flies' positions are visually tracked,
which allows quantification of the odor-evoked walking behavior with high temporal
resolution of up to 100 ms. As a demonstration of Flywalk we show that the
flies' behavior is odorant-specific; attractive odors elicit directed upwind
movements, while repellent odors evoke decreased activity, followed by downwind
movements. These changes in behavior differ between sexes. Furthermore our findings
show that flies can evaluate the sex of a conspecific and males can determine a
female's mating status based on olfactory cues. Consequently, Flywalk allows
automatic screening of individual flies for their olfactory preference and
The mushroom bodies of the insect brain play an important role in olfactory processing, associative learning and memory. The mushroom bodies show odor-specific spatial patterns of activity and are also influenced by visual stimuli.
Functional imaging was used to investigate changes in the in vivo responses of the mushroom body of the hawkmoth Manduca sexta during multimodal discrimination training. A visual and an odour stimulus were presented either together or individually. Initially, mushroom body activation patterns were identical to the odour stimulus and the multimodal stimulus. After training, however, the mushroom body response to the rewarded multimodal stimulus was significantly lower than the response to the unrewarded unimodal odour stimulus, indicating that the coding of the stimuli had changed as a result of training. The opposite pattern was seen when only the unimodal odour stimulus was rewarded. In this case, the mushroom body was more strongly activated by the multimodal stimuli after training. When no stimuli were rewarded, the mushroom body activity decreased for both the multimodal and unimodal odour stimuli. There was no measurable response to the unimodal visual stimulus in any of the experiments. These results can be explained using a connectionist model where the mushroom body is assumed to be excited by olfactory stimulus components, and suppressed by multimodal configurations.
Discrimination training with multimodal stimuli consisting of visual and odour cues leads to stimulus specific changes in the in vivo responses of the mushroom body of the hawkmoth.
The desert ants Cataglyphis navigate not only by path integration but also by using visual and olfactory landmarks to pinpoint the nest entrance. Here we show that Cataglyphis noda can additionally use magnetic and vibrational landmarks as nest-defining cues. The magnetic field may typically provide directional rather than positional information, and vibrational signals so far have been shown to be involved in social behavior. Thus it remains questionable if magnetic and vibration landmarks are usually provided by the ants' habitat as nest-defining cues. However, our results point to the flexibility of the ants' navigational system, which even makes use of cues that are probably most often sensed in a different context.
Mating induces profound physiological changes in a wide range of insects, leading to behavioural adjustments to match the internal state of the animal. Here, we show for the first time, to our knowledge, that a noctuid moth switches its olfactory response from food to egg-laying cues following mating. Unmated females of the cotton leafworm (Spodoptera littoralis) are strongly attracted to lilac flowers (Syringa vulgaris). After mating, attraction to floral odour is abolished and the females fly instead to green-leaf odour of the larval host plant cotton, Gossypium hirsutum. This behavioural switch is owing to a marked change in the olfactory representation of floral and green odours in the primary olfactory centre, the antennal lobe (AL). Calcium imaging, using authentic and synthetic odours, shows that the ensemble of AL glomeruli dedicated to either lilac or cotton odour is selectively up- and downregulated in response to mating. A clear-cut behavioural modulation as a function of mating is a useful substrate for studies of the neural mechanisms underlying behavioural decisions. Modulation of odour-driven behaviour through concerted regulation of odour maps contributes to our understanding of state-dependent choice and host shifts in insect herbivores.
olfaction; mating; modulation; host finding; herbivore; Spodoptera littoralis