A comparison of responses from olfactory receptor neurons of Heliothis subflexa and Heliothis virescens to components of their sex pheromone

T C Baker, S A Ochieng', A A Cossé, S G Lee, J L Todd, C Quero, N J Vickers
Journal of Comparative Physiology. A, Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology 2004, 190 (2): 155-65
Single-cell electrophysiological recordings were obtained from olfactory receptor neurons in sensilla trichodea on male antennae of the heliothine species Heliothis subflexa and the closely related congener H. virescens. A large percentage of sensilla (72% and 81%, respectively, of all sensilla sampled) contained a single odor-responsive receptor neuron tuned to the major pheromone component of both species, Z-11-hexadecenal. A second population of sensilla on H. subflexa antennae (18%) housed receptor neurons that were tuned to Z-9-hexadecenal but also responded with less sensitivity to Z-9-tetradecenal. A similar population of sensilla (4%) on H. virescens male antennae housed receptor neurons that were shown to be tuned specifically only to Z-9-tetradecenal, with no response to even high dosages of Z-9-hexadecenal. A third population of sensilla (comprising 8% and 16% of the sensilla sampled in H. subflexa and H. virescens, respectively) housed two olfactory receptor neurons, one of which was tuned to Z-11-hexadecenyl acetate and the other tuned to Z-11-hexadecenol. In H. subflexa the Z-11-hexadecenyl acetate-tuned neuron also responded to Z-9-tetradecenal with nearly equivalent sensitivity. The behavioral requirements of males of these two species for distinct pheromonal blends was, therefore, reflected by the subtle differences in the tuning properties of antennal olfactory receptor neurons.

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