Physiological organization and topographic mapping of the antennal olfactory sensory neurons in female hawkmoths, Manduca sexta

Majid Ghaninia Tabarestani, Shannon B. Olsson, Bill S. Hansson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The hawkmoth, Manduca sexta, has been a keystone system for developmental, neurobiological, and ecological studies for several decades. Because many of its behaviors are driven by olfactory cues, a thorough understanding of the Manduca olfactory system is essential to studying its biology. With the aim of functionally characterizing single antennal olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) and determining their detailed topographic location, we performed systematic single-sensillum recordings on 4 morphological types of olfactory sensilla: Trichoid-A and -B and basiconic-A and -B. We were able to unambiguously differentiate the colocalized cells associated with single sensilla based on their spike amplitudes. Using a panel of 61 biologically relevant compounds established in behavioral and gas chromatography-electrophysiology experiments, we made 223 recordings from these sensilla. Based on the response spectra of 187 responding OSNs, the sensilla fell into 12 distinct functional classes encompassing 29 OSNs. Selectivity of the 25 responding OSNs varied from narrowly tuned (responding to only one or a subset of compounds), to very broadly tuned (responding to multiple compounds), in a concentration-dependent manner. Four OSNs, however, did not respond to the tested components. Topographic mapping of the sensilla revealed that some physiological sensillum types are confined to particular locations on the antennal surface while other classes are more or less irregularly scattered all over the antennal annuli. Such information will prove beneficial for future receptor deorphanization, in situ hybridization, and molecular manipulation experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-671
Number of pages17
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • Antennae
  • Electrophysiology
  • Lepidoptera
  • Odor coding
  • Spatial position

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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