Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2015Peer reviewedOpen access

Concurrent modulation of neuronal and behavioural olfactory responses to sex and host plant cues in a male moth

Kromann, Sophie; Saveer, Ahmed; Muhammad, Binyameen; Bengtsson, Marie; Birgersson, Göran; Hansson, Bill; Schlyter, Fredrik; Witzgall, Peter; Ignell, Rickard; Becher, Paul


Mating has profound effects on animal physiology and behaviour, not only in females but also in males, which we show here for olfactory responses. In cotton leafworm moths, Spodoptera littoralis, odour-mediated attraction to sex pheromone and plant volatiles are modulated after mating, producing a behavioural response that matches the physiological condition of the male insect. Unmated males are attracted by upwind flight to sex pheromone released by calling females, as well as to volatiles of lilac flowers and green leaves of the host plant cotton, signalling adult food and mating sites, respectively. Mating temporarily abolishes male attraction to females and host plant odour, but does not diminish attraction to flowers. This behavioural modulation is correlated with a response modulation in the olfactory system, as shown by electro-physiological recordings from antennae and by functional imaging of the antennal lobe, using natural odours and synthetic compounds. An effect of mating on the olfactory responses to pheromone and cotton plant volatiles but not to lilac flowers indicates the presence of functionally independent neural circuits within the olfactory system. Our results indicate that these circuits interconnect and weigh perception of social and habitat odour signals to generate appropriate behavioural responses according to mating state.


olfactory modulation; behaviour; mating; Spodoptera littoralis; electrophysiology; host plant attraction

Published in

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
2015, Volume: 282, number: 1799, article number: 20141884
Publisher: ROYAL SOC