Synchronous firing of antennal-lobe projection neurons encodes the behaviorally effective ratio of sex-pheromone components in male Manduca sexta

Joshua P. Martin, Hong Lei, Jeffrey A. Riffell, John G. Hildebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Olfactory stimuli that are essential to an animal's survival and reproduction are often complex mixtures of volatile organic compounds in characteristic proportions. Here, we investigated how these proportions are encoded in the primary olfactory processing center, the antennal lobe, of male Manduca sexta moths. Two key components of the female's sex pheromone, present in an approximately 2:1 ratio, are processed in each of two neighboring glomeruli in the macroglomerular complex (MGC) of males of this species. In wind-tunnel flight experiments, males exhibited behavioral selectivity for ratios approximating the ratio released by conspecific females. The ratio between components was poorly represented, however, in the firing-rate output of uniglomerular MGC projection neurons (PNs). PN firing rate was mostly insensitive to the ratio between components, and individual PNs did not exhibit a preference for a particular ratio. Recording simultaneously from pairs of PNs in the same glomerulus, we found that the natural ratio between components elicited the most synchronous spikes, and altering the proportion of either component decreased the proportion of synchronous spikes. The degree of synchronous firing between PNs in the same glomerulus thus selectively encodes the natural ratio that most effectively evokes the natural behavioral response to pheromone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)963-979
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Volume199
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

Keywords

  • Glomerulus
  • Neural coding
  • Neural synchrony
  • Olfaction
  • Pheromone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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