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Forskningsartikel2024Vetenskapligt granskadÖppen tillgång

The maxillary palps of Tephritidae are selectively tuned to food volatiles and diverge with ecology

Herrera, Sebastian Larsson; Kimbokota, Fikira; Ahmad, Sohel; Heise, Katharina; Biasazin, Tibebe Dejene; Dekker, Teun


The maxillary palp is an auxiliary olfactory organ in insects, which, different from the antennae, is equipped with only a few olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) types. We postulated that these derived mouthpart structures, positioned at the base of the proboscis, may be particularly important in mediating feeding behaviors. As feeding is spatio-temporally segregated from oviposition in most Tephritidae, this taxonomic group appears quite suitable to parse out sensory breadth and potential functional divergence of palps and antennae. Scanning electron microscopy and anterograde staining underlined the limited palpal olfactory circuit in Tephritidae: only three morphological subtypes of basiconic sensilla were found, each with two neurons, and project to a total of six antennal lobe glomeruli in Bactrocera dorsalis. Accordingly, the palps detected only few volatiles from the headspace of food (fermentation and protein lures) and fruit (guava and mango) compared to the antennae (17 over 77, using gas-chromatography coupled electrophysiology). Interestingly, functionally the antennae were more tuned to fruit volatiles, detecting eight times more fruit than food volatiles (63 over 8), whereas the number of fruit and food volatile detection was more comparable in the palps (14 over 8). As tephritids diverge in oviposition preferences, but converge on food substrates, we postulated that the receptive ranges of palpal circuits would be more conserved compared to the antennae. However, palpal responses of three tephritid species that differed in phylogenetic relatedness and ecologically niche, diverged across ecological rather than phylogenetic rifts. Two species with strongly overlapping ecology, B. dorsalis and Ceratitis capitata, showed inseparable response profiles, whereas the cucurbit specialist Zeugodacus cucurbitae strongly diverged. As Z. cucurbitae is phylogenetically placed between B. dorsalis and C. capitata, the results indicate that ecology overrides phylogeny in the evolution of palpal tuning, in spite of being predisposed to detecting food volatiles.


Maxillary palps; Electrophysiology; GC-EAD; GC-EPD; Olfactomics; Tephritidae; Bactrocera dorsalis; Zeugodacus cucurbitae; Ceratitis capitata

Publicerad i

Journal of Insect Physiology
2024, Volym: 154, artikelnummer: 104632