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Journal Articles Journal of Comparative Physiology A Year : 2020

A plant volatile alters the perception of sex pheromone blend ratios in a moth

Abstract

Mate finding in most moths is based on male perception of a female-emitted pheromone whose species specificity resides in component chemistry and proportions. Components are individually detected by specialized olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) projecting into the macroglomerular complex (MGC) of the male brain. We asked how robust ratio recognition is when challenged by a plant volatile background. To test this, we investigated the perception of the pheromone blend in Agrotis ipsilon, a moth species whose females produce a blend of Z7-dodecenyl acetate (Z7-12:Ac), Z9-tetradecenyl acetate (Z9-14:Ac), and Z11-hexadecenyl acetate in a 4:1:4 ratio optimally attractive for males. First, we recorded the responses of specialist ORNs for Z7 and Z9 and showed that heptanal, a flower volatile, activated Z7 but not Z9 neurons. Then, we recorded intracellularly the responses of MGC neurons to various ratios and showed that heptanal altered ratio responses of pheromone-sensitive neurons. Finally, we analyzed the behavior of males in a wind tunnel and showed that their innate preference for the 4:1:4 blend was shifted in the presence of heptanal. Pheromone ratio recognition may thus be altered by background odorants. Therefore, the olfactory environment might be a selective force for the evolution of pheromone communication systems.
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Dates and versions

hal-03319805 , version 1 (13-08-2021)

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Antoine Hoffmann, Thomas Bourgeois, Alicia Munoz, Sylvia Anton, Jeremy Gevar, et al.. A plant volatile alters the perception of sex pheromone blend ratios in a moth. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 2020, 206 (4), pp.553-570. ⟨10.1007/s00359-020-01420-y⟩. ⟨hal-03319805⟩
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