Neural basis of a pollinator's buffet

Olfactory specialization and learning in Manduca sexta

Jeffrey A. Riffell, Hong Lei, Leif Abrell, John G. Hildebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

72 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Pollinators exhibit a range of innate and learned behaviors that mediate interactions with flowers, but the olfactory bases of these responses in a naturalistic context remain poorly understood. The hawkmoth Manduca sexta is an important pollinator for many night-blooming flowers but can learn - through olfactory conditioning - to visit other nectar resources. Analysis of the flowers that are innately attractive to moths shows that the scents all have converged on a similar chemical profile that, in turn, is uniquely represented in the moth's antennal (olfactory) lobe. Flexibility in visitation to nonattractive flowers, however, is mediated by octopamine-associated modulation of antennal-lobe neurons during learning. Furthermore, this flexibility does not extinguish the innate preferences. Such processing of stimuli through two olfactory channels, one involving an innate bias and the other a learned association, allows the moths to exist within a dynamic floral environment while maintaining specialized associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-204
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume339
Issue number6116
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 11 2013
Externally publishedYes

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Manduca
Moths
Learning
Octopamine
Instinct
Plant Nectar
Neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Neural basis of a pollinator's buffet : Olfactory specialization and learning in Manduca sexta. / Riffell, Jeffrey A.; Lei, Hong; Abrell, Leif; Hildebrand, John G.

In: Science, Vol. 339, No. 6116, 11.01.2013, p. 200-204.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Riffell, Jeffrey A. ; Lei, Hong ; Abrell, Leif ; Hildebrand, John G. / Neural basis of a pollinator's buffet : Olfactory specialization and learning in Manduca sexta. In: Science. 2013 ; Vol. 339, No. 6116. pp. 200-204.
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