Pheromone-source orientation behavior can be modified by coexisting plant volatiles. Some host plant volatiles enhance the pheromonal responses of olfactory receptor neurons and increase the sensitivity of orientation behavior in the Lepidoptera species. Although many electrophysiological studies have focused on the pheromonal response of olfactory interneurons, the response to the mixture of pheromone and plant odor is not yet known. Using the silkmoth, Bombyx mori, we investigated the physiology of interneurons in the antennal lobe (AL), the primary olfactory center in the insect brain, in response to a mixture of the primary pheromone component bombykol and cis-3-hexen-1-ol, a mulberry leaf volatile. Application of the mixture enhanced the pheromonal responses of projection neurons innervating the macroglomerular complex in the AL. In contrast, the mixture of pheromone and cis-3-hexen-1-ol had little influence on the responses of projection neurons innervating the ordinary glomeruli whereas other plant odors dynamically modified the response. Together this suggests moths can process plant odor information under conditions of simultaneous exposure to sex pheromone.
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