Plant-associated odor perception and processing in two parasitoid species with different degrees of host specificity: Implications for host location strategies

Prithwiraj Das, Tolulope Morawo, Henry Fadamiro
Journal of Insect Physiology 2017, 101: 169-177
Microplitis croceipes and Cotesia marginiventris (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) are parasitoids of lepidopteran larvae with different degrees of host specificity. Both parasitoid species rely on host-related plant volatiles as odor cues to locate their herbivore hosts. To better understand mechanisms of odor processing in parasitoids, we tested responses of olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) in the antennal sensilla placodea of female parasitoids to select plant volatiles and mixtures. The compounds tested include two green leaf volatiles (i.e., cis-3-hexenol and hexanal) and three herbivore-induced plant volatiles (i.e., cis-3-hexenyl butyrate, cis-3-hexenyl acetate and linalool). Single-sensillum recording showed that the test compounds elicited activity in large and small amplitude neurons housed in the short sensilla placodea of both parasitoid species. In general, C. marginiventris showed greater OSN responses to a low dose while M. croceipes showed greater responses to a high dose of test compounds. Binary mixtures of cis-3-hexenol and linalool inhibited OSN activity in M. croceipes, but not in C. marginiventris. These differences may have implications for odor discrimination in the two parasitoid species. In addition, anterograde neurobiotin stainings were performed to map glomerular projections of OSNs in the antennal lobe of the parasitoids. In M. croceipes, a mixture of cis-3-hexenol and linalool inhibited activity of the glomerulus activated by cis-3-hexenol alone. In C. marginiventris, a mixture of cis-3-hexenol and cis-3-hexenyl acetate showed intense labeling in their respective glomeruli, possibly suggesting a synergistic interaction. These differences in detection and coding of single compounds and mixtures may impact host location strategies in the two parasitoid species.

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