Responses of protocerebral neurons in Manduca sexta to sex-pheromone mixtures

Hong Lei, Hong Yan Chiu, John G. Hildebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Male Manduca sexta moths are attracted to a mixture of two components of the female's sex pheromone at the natural concentration ratio. Deviation from this ratio results in reduced attraction. Projection neurons innervating prominent male-specific glomeruli in the male's antennal lobe produce maximal synchronized spiking activity in response to synthetic mixtures of the two components centering around the natural ratio, suggesting that behaviorally effective mixture ratios are encoded by synchronous neuronal activity. We investigated the physiological activity and morphology of downstream protocerebral neurons that responded to antennal stimulation with single pheromone components and their mixtures at various concentration ratios. Among the tested neurons, only a few gave stronger responses to the mixture at the natural ratio whereas most did not distinguish among the mixtures that were tested. We also found that the population response distinguished among the two pheromone components and their mixtures, prior to the peak population response. This observation is consistent with our previous finding that synchronous firing of antennal-lobe projection neurons reaches its maximum before the firing rate reaches its peak. Moreover, the response patterns of protocerebral neurons are diverse, suggesting that the representation of olfactory stimuli at the level of protocerebrum is complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)997-1014
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Mixture
  • Moth
  • Pheromone
  • Protocerebrum
  • Ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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