Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

A novel lineage of candidate pheromone receptors for sex communication in moths

Bastin-Héline, Lucie; de Fouchier, Arthur; Cao, Song; Koutroumpa, Fotini; Caballero-Vidal, Gabriela; Robakiewicz, Stefania; Monsempes, Christelle; François, Marie-Christine; Ribeyre, Tatiana; Maria, Annick; Chertemps, Thomas; de Cian, Anne; Walker, William B.; Wang, Guirong; Jacquin-Joly, Emmanuelle; Montagne, Nicolas


Sex pheromone receptors (PRs) are key players in chemical communication between mating partners in insects. In the highly diversified insect order Lepidoptera, male PRs tuned to female-emitted type I pheromones (which make up the vast majority of pheromones identified) form a dedicated subfamily of odorant receptors (ORs). Here, using a combination of heterologous expression and in vivo genome editing methods, we bring functional evidence that at least one moth PR does not belong to this subfamily but to a distantly related OR lineage. This PR, identified in the cotton leafworm Spodoptera littoralis, is highly expressed in male antennae and is specifically tuned to the major sex pheromone component emitted by females. Together with a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of moth ORs, our functional data suggest two independent apparitions of PRs tuned to type I pheromones in Lepidoptera, opening up a new path for studying the evolution of moth pheromone communication.


Sex pheromone receptors (PRs); Lepidoptera; moths; odorant receptors (ORs); moth pheromone communication

Published in

2019, volume: 8, article number: e49826

Authors' information

Bastin-Héline, Lucie
Sorbonne Universite
de Fouchier, Arthur
Sorbonne Universite
Cao, Song
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Koutroumpa, Fotini
Sorbonne Universite
Caballero-Vidal, Gabriela
Sorbonne Universite
Robakiewicz, Stefania
Sorbonne Universite
Monsempes, Christelle
National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA)
François, Marie-Christine
Sorbonne Universite
Ribeyre, Tatiana
Sorbonne Universite
Maria, Annick
Sorbonne Universite
Chertemps, Thomas
Sorbonne Universite
de Cian, Anne
The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
Walker, William B. (Walker, William B.)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology
Wang, Guirong
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Jacquin-Joly, Emmanuelle
Sorbonne Universite
Montagne, Nicolas
Sorbonne Universite

UKÄ Subject classification

Evolutionary Biology
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)