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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Peripheral modulation of olfaction by physiological state in the Egyptian leaf worm Spodoptera littoralis (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

Martel, Veronique; Anderson, Peter; Hansson, Bill; Schlyter, Fredrik


Insects show behavioural plasticity based on their physiological state. Deprivation from a resource will normally make them more responsive to it or to perform behaviour increasing the probability of encountering such a resource. Modulation of the olfactory system has been shown mainly in the central nervous system, but also in the periphery. In this study, antennal sensitivity of females of the Egyptian cotton leaf worm Spodoptera littoralis to different plant and sex pheromone odours was measured using electroantennography (EAG). Different mating status, age, and feeding status were used to investigate peripheral changes in olfactory responses. Virgin females were found to be more sensitive to plant odours and sex pheromone compared to mated females. Age also had an impact on antennal sensitivity, 2 and 4 days old females being more sensitive than just-emerged ones. Such an increase in sensitivity could be explained by maturation of olfactory receptor neurons after emergence or by an increase in motivation as the available expected life time remaining decreases. Finally, feeding status did not modify the antennal sensitivity of females. A peripheral modulation could thus be demonstrated in the olfactory system of female Spodoptera littoralis at certain life stages. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Electroantennography; Odour; Mating status; Age; Food; Plasticity

Published in

Journal of Insect Physiology
2009, Volume: 55, number: 9, pages: 793-797