Physiology and glomerular projections of olfactory receptor neurons on the antenna of female Heliothis virescens (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) responsive to behaviorally relevant odors

N K Hillier, C Kleineidam, N J Vickers
Journal of Comparative Physiology. A, Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology 2006, 192 (2): 199-219
The neurophysiology and antennal lobe projections of olfactory receptor neurons housed within short trichoid sensilla of female Heliothis virescens F. (Noctuidae: Lepidoptera) were investigated using a combination of cut-sensillum recording and cobalt-lysine staining techniques. Behaviorally relevant odorants, including intra- and inter-sexual pheromonal compounds, plant and floral volatiles were selected for testing sensillar responses. A total of 184 sensilla were categorized into 25 possible sensillar types based on odor responses and sensitivity. Sensilla exhibited both narrow (responding to few odors) and broad (responding to many odors) response spectra. Sixty-six percent of the sensilla identified were stimulated by conspecific odors; in particular, major components of the male H. virescens hairpencil pheromone (hexadecanyl acetate and octadecanyl acetate) and a minor component of the female sex pheromone, (Z)-9-tetradecenal. Following characterization of the responses, olfactory receptor neurons within individual sensilla were stained with cobalt lysine (N=39) and traced to individual glomeruli in the antennal lobe. Olfactory receptor neurons with specific responses to (Z)-9-tetradecenal, a female H. virescens sex pheromone component, projected to the female-specific central large female glomerulus (cLFG) and other glomeruli. Terminal arborizations from sensillar types containing olfactory receptor neurons sensitive to male hairpencil components and plant volatiles were also localized to distinct glomerular locations. This information provides insight into the representation of behaviorally relevant odorants in the female moth olfactory system.

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