Specificity and redundancy in the olfactory system of the bark beetle Ips typographus: single-cell responses to ecologically relevant odors

Martin N Andersson, Mattias C Larsson, Fredrik Schlyter
Journal of Insect Physiology 2009, 55 (6): 556-67
We screened 150 olfactory sensilla in single-sensillum recordings to unravel the mechanisms underlying host selection in the spruce bark beetle, Ips typographus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae). Odor stimuli comprised of pheromone (various bark beetle spp.), host, and non-host compounds elicited strong and selective responses from 106 olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs), 45 of which were tuned to pheromone compounds, 37 to host compounds, and 24 to non-host volatiles (NHV). In addition, 26 ORNs responded only weakly to any odor stimulus. Strongly responding ORNs were classified into 17 classes. Seven classes responded primarily to the Ips pheromone compounds: cis-verbenol, ipsenol, ipsdienol (two classes), 2-methyl-3-buten-2-ol, amitinol, or verbenone, respectively. Six classes responded to the host compounds: alpha-pinene, myrcene, p-cymene, myrcene and p-cymene, 1,8-cineole, or Delta3-carene, respectively. Four classes responded to NHV: 3-octanol, 1-octen-3-ol, trans-conophthorin, or indiscriminately to the repellent green leaf volatiles (GLVs) 1-hexanol, Z3-hexen-1-ol and E2-hexen-1-ol, respectively. Indiscriminate responses from GLV neurons might explain a behavioral redundancy among these GLVs. This is the first description of individual bark beetle ORNs dedicated to NHV perception. These comprise almost 25% of the strongly responding neurons, demonstrating that a large proportion of the olfactory system is devoted to signals from plants that the insect avoids.

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