Olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) response was measured to assess why some males ("rare males") of the Asian corn borer (ACB), Ostrinia furnacalis, have a broad behavioral response to fly upwind to both the ACB and the European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis, pheromone blends. We performed single-sensillum electrophysiological recordings on ACB males that had been behaviorally assessed for upwind flight response to the ACB blend [60:40 (Z)-12-tetradecenyl acetate (Z12-14:OAc) to (E)-12-tetradecenyl acetate (E12-14:OAc)], as well as to ECB (Z-strain) and ECB (E-strain) blends [3:97 and 99:1 (Z)-11-tetradecenyl acetate (Z11-14:OAc) to (E)-11-tetradecenyl acetate (E11-14:OAc)]. Sensilla from all types of males had large- and small-spike-sized ORNs responding strongly to Z12- or E12-14:OAc, but weakly to Z11- and E11-14:OAc. In the majority of males ("normal males") that flew upwind only to the ACB blend, Z11-14:OAc elicited responses in an intermediate spike-sized ORN associated with behavioral antagonism that is mainly tuned to (Z)-9-tetradecenyl acetate (Z9-14:OAc). In the rare-type ACB males that flew to both the ACB and ECB pheromone blends, Z11-14:OAc did not stimulate this ORN. Increased responsiveness to ancestral pheromone components by ORNs associated with behavioral antagonism could be instrumental in reproductive character displacement, or in reinforcement and reproductive isolation during speciation by helping to increase assortative mating between males and females in derived populations that use novel sex pheromone blends.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science