Sex pheromone blend of Manduca sexta: Responses of central olfactory interneurons to antennal stimulation in male moths

Thomas A. Christensen, John G Hildebrand, James H. Tumlinson, Robert E. Doolittle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Scopus citations


Recently, chemical analysis of solvent rinses of the external surfaces of pheromone glands from female Manduca sexta revealed a blend of 12 aldehydes, including the previously identified sex pheromone component, (E,Z)‐10,12‐hexadecadienal (bombykal). Previous electrophysiological studies showed that olfactory (deutocerebral) interneurons in the antennal lobes of males exhibited a wide range of responsiveness to pheromonal stimulation of the ipsilateral antenna. These experiments were performed with crude extracts of pheromone glands as well as two synthetic compounds: the major pheromone component, bombykal, and (E,Z)‐11,13‐pentadecadienal, a mimic of a second component of the female's pheromone blend. Using intracellular methods, we have now reexamined similar olfactory interneurons, using each of the 12 chemically identified components as well as synthetic blends of various combinations of them. Eight of the 12 components isolated from female glands elicited some form of response in olfactory interneurons in males. In accordance with biochemical and behavioral data, the most potent are bombykal and two trienals, (E,E,E)‐ and (E,E,Z)‐10,12,14‐hexadecatrienal. We also conclude that the C15 dienal is selective for one of the trienal receptors on the antenna, but is much less potent than the natural trienal stimulant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-291
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1989



  • antennal lobe
  • electrophysiology
  • olfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Insect Science

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