The role of an epipharyngeal sensillum in the perception of feeding deterrents by Leptinotarsa decemlineata larvae
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An epipharyngeal taste sensillum in Leptinotarsa decemlineata larvae was studied. Electron microscopy showed that the sensillum is innervated by five neurons. Electrophysiological experiments showed that one of these cells responds to water, a second to sucrose and a third to two feeding deterrents that were also effective in a behavioural test. Receptor cells sensitive to feeding deterrents were not previously reported for L.␣decemlineata larvae or adults. The response of the sucrose-sensitive cell was strongly inhibited by one of the two feeding deterrents and only slightly by the other feeding deterrent. The relationship between the behavioural and electrophysiological results is discussed in order to elucidate the neural code of feeding deterrents in L. decemlineata larvae. We conclude that probably both the response of the deterrent cell and peripheral interactions exerted by feeding deterrents on the sucrose-sensitive cell determine the potency of feeding deterrents. The present results provide a physiological basis for the hypothesis that the presence or absence of feeding deterrents in potential food plants is a decisive cue in food plant selection by L. decemlineata larvae.
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