Host plant volatiles synergize responses of sex pheromone-specific olfactory receptor neurons in male Helicoverpa zea
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Single-cell electrophysiological recordings were obtained from olfactory receptor neurons in antennal trichoid sensilla of male corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea. Spontaneous activity of the neuron specific for the major component (Z)-11-hexadecenal, the conspecific female-emitted sex pheromone, was not affected by exposure to host plant volatiles. However, stimulations with binary mixtures of a threshold dosage of the pheromone component and increasing dosages of either linalool or (Z)-3-hexenol significantly synergized the pheromone-specific neuron's firing rates compared with responses to the major pheromone component alone. Cross-adaptation studies confirmed that the enhanced impulses originated from the pheromone-component-tuned neuron. Because plant volatiles do not stimulate the pheromone-specific neuron when presented alone, the pheromone plus host odor blend would be interpreted as containing more pheromone than it actually does when processed by the pheromone-processing portion of the antennal lobe.
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