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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Translating olfactomes into attractants: shared volatiles provide attractive bridges for polyphagy in fruit flies

Biasazin, Tibebe Dejene; Herrera, Sebastian Larsson; Kimbokota, Fikira; Dekker, Teun


Tephritid flies are serious fruit pests. Despite clear niche differences, many species show considerable overlap in fruit preferences, of which we here analysed the olfactory correlate. Using the volatiles of four unrelated fruit species, antennal responses were quantified to construct a fruit-odour response database for four tephritid species. Although responses were distinct with a significant niche-correlated bias, the analyses show that the probability of detection of a volatile strongly increased with its sharedness across fruits. This also held for the unrelated fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster (DoOR repository-based analyses). We conjectured that shared volatiles signify 'host' to the fly 'nose' and induce attraction. Indeed, blends of volatiles shared by fruit and detected by all four species were very attractive for tephritid species, more than fruits. Quantitative whole antennal recordings en lieu of, or complementing bottom-up molecular neurogenetic approaches, enables comparative olfactomics in non-model species, and facilitate interpretation of olfaction in evolutionary, ecological, and applied contexts.


Attractants; behaviour; drosophila; electrophysiology; olfactome; polyphagy; tephritidae; volatilome

Published in

Ecology Letters
2019, Volume: 22, number: 1, pages: 108-118
Publisher: WILEY