Involvement of the mechanosensory complex structures of the cricket Phaeophilacris bredoides in triggering of motor responses to sound

  • A. M. Lunichkin
  • A. N. Knyazev
Comparative and Ontogenic Physiology


Using an ethological approach, we studied the possibility of sound perception as well as probable contribution of diverse mechanosensory systems composing the mechanosensory complex to triggering of motor responses to sound stimulation in imaginal crickets Phaeophilacris bredoides lacking the tympanal organs (“deaf”). It was shown that Ph. bredoides imagoes are able to perceive sounds and respond to sound cues by a locomotor reaction in a relatively broad frequency range which becomes narrower as sound intensity decreases [0.1–6.0 kHz (111 ± 3 dB SPL), 0.1–1.5 kHz (101 ± 3 dB SPL), 0.1–1.3 kHz (91 ± 3 dB SPL), 0.1–0.6 kHz (81 ± 3 dB SPL), and 0.1 kHz (71 ± 3 dB SPL)]. Sound perception and triggering ofmotor responses appear to involve the cercal organs (CO), subgenual organs (SO) and, probably, other distant mechanosensory organs (DMO). CO are essential for triggering of locomotor responses to sound within the ranges of 1.6–6.0 kHz (111 ± 3 dB SPL), 1–1.5 kHz (101 ± 3 dB SPL), 0.9–1.3 kHz (91 ± 3 dB SPL), and 0.5–0.6 kHz (81 ± 3 dB SPL). SO and, probably, other DMO provide locomotor responses to sound within the ranges of 0.1–6.0 kHz (111 ± 3 dB SPL), 0.1–0.8 kHz (101 ± 3 dB SPL), 0.1–0.4 kHz (91 ± 3 dB SPL), and 0.1–0.4 kHz (81 ± 3 dB SPL). From this, it follows that “deaf” (nonsinging) Ph. bredoides can perceive sounds using CO, SO and, probably, other DMO, which (as in singing crickets) are likely to compose an integrated mechanosensory complex providing adequate acoustic behavior of this cricket species. Performance efficiency and sensitivity of the mechanosensory complex (specifically, of CO) rely on the thoroughness of grooming. Following self-cleaning of CO, the level of cricket motor activity in response to cue presentation returned to the baseline and sometimes even increased. Whether or not crickets of this species communicate acoustically is yet to be found out, however, we suggest that the mechanosensory complex, which triggers motor responses to a sound, is normally involved in the defensive escape response aimed at rescuing from predators.


evolution ontogeny sensory systems bioacoustics insects crickets 


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© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and BiochemistryRussian Academy of SciencesSt. PetersburgRussia

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