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

80 Scopus citations

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Neural basis of a pollinator's buffet: Olfactory specialization and learning in Manduca sexta'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this