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Chem Senses. 2002 Mar;27(3):231-44.

Spatial representation of odours in the antennal lobe of the moth Spodoptera littoralis (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae).

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Department of Crop Science, Chemical Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-230 53 Alnarp, Sweden.


Glomeruli within the antennal lobe (AL) of moths are convergence sites for a large number of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). The ORNs target single glomeruli. In the male-specific cluster of glomeruli, the macroglomerular complex (MGC), the input is chemotypic in that each glomerulus of the MGC receives information about a specific component of the conspecific female sex pheromone. Little is known about how neurons that detect other odorants arborize in and amongst glomeruli. The present study focuses on how sex pheromones and biologically relevant semiochemicals are represented in the ALs of both sexes of the moth Spodoptera littoralis. To assess this, we optically measured odour-evoked changes of calcium concentration in the ALs. Foci of calcium increase corresponded in size and shape with anatomical glomeruli. More than one glomerulus was normally activated by a specific non-pheromonal odorant and the same glomerulus was activated by several odorants. All odorants and pheromone components tested evoked unique patterns of glomerular activity that were highly reproducible at repeated stimulations within an individual. Odour-evoked patterns were similar between individuals for a given odorant, implicating a spatial olfactory code. In addition, we demonstrated that activity patterns evoked by host-plant related volatiles are similar between males and females.

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