Interference of plant volatiles on pheromone receptor neurons of male Grapholita molesta (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae)

Byrappa Ammagarahalli, César Gemeno
Journal of Insect Physiology 2015, 81: 118-28
In moths, sex pheromone components are detected by pheromone-specific olfactory receptor neurons (ph-ORNs) housed in sensilla trichodea in the male antennae. In Grapholita molesta, ph-ORNs are highly sensitive and specific to the individual sex pheromone components, and thus help in the detection and discrimination of the unique conspecific pheromone blend. Plant odors interspersed with a sub-optimal pheromone dose are reported to increase male moth attraction. To determine if the behavioral synergism of pheromone and plant odors starts at the ph-ORN level, single sensillum recordings were performed on Z8-12:Ac and E8-12:Ac ph-ORNs (Z-ORNs and E-ORNs, respectively) stimulated with pheromone-plant volatile mixtures. First, biologically meaningful plant-volatile doses were determined by recording the response of plant-specific ORNs housed in sensilla auricillica and trichodea to several plant odorants. This exploration provided a first glance at plant ORNs in this species. Then, using these plant volatile doses, we found that the spontaneous activity of ph-ORNs was not affected by the stimulation with plant volatiles, but that a binary mixture of sex pheromone and plant odorants resulted in a small (about 15%), dose-independent, but statistically significant, reduction in the spike frequency of Z-ORNs with respect to stimulation with Z8-12:Ac alone. The response of E-ORNs to a combination of E8-12:Ac and plant volatiles was not different from E8-12:Ac alone. We argue that the small inhibition of Z-ORNs caused by physiologically realistic plant volatile doses is probably not fully responsible for the observed behavioral synergism of pheromone and plant odors.

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