Jump to Main Content
Sex Pheromone Receptor Specificity in the European Corn Borer Moth, Ostrinia nubilalis
- Wanner, Kevin W., Nichols, Andrew S., Allen, Jean E., Bunger, Peggy L., Garczynski, Stephen F., Linn, Charles E., Robertson, Hugh M., Luetje, Charles W., Leal, Walter S.
- Ostrinia nubilalis, sensory neurons, receptors, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, oocytes, moths, evolution, electrophysiology, complementary DNA, cis-trans isomers, antennae, antagonists, amino acid motifs, acetates, Xenopus, DNA primers, Ostrinia furnacalis, insect pests, sex pheromones, races, isomers, chemical composition, males, females, smell, chemoreceptors, electroantennography
- The European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis (Hubner), exists as two separate sex pheromone races. ECB(Z) females produce a 97∶3 blend of Z11- and E11-tetradecenyl acetate whereas ECB(E) females produce an opposite 1∶99 ratio of the Z and E isomers. Males of each race respond specifically to their conspecific female's blend. A closely related species, the Asian corn borer (ACB), O. furnacalis , uses a 3∶2 blend of Z12- and E12-tetradecenyl acetate, and is believed to have evolved from an ECB-like ancestor. To further knowledge of the molecular mechanisms of pheromone detection and its evolution among closely related species we identified and characterized sex pheromone receptors from ECB(Z). Homology-dependent (degenerate PCR primers designed to conserved amino acid motifs) and homology-independent (pyrophosphate sequencing of antennal cDNA) approaches were used to identify candidate sex pheromone transcripts. Expression in male and female antennae was assayed by quantitative real-time PCR. Two-electrode voltage clamp electrophysiology was used to functionally characterize candidate receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes. We characterized five sex pheromone receptors, OnOrs1 and 3–6. Their transcripts were 14–100 times more abundant in male compared to female antennae. OnOr6 was highly selective for Z11-tetradecenyl acetate (EC 50 = 0.86±0.27 µM) and was at least three orders of magnitude less responsive to E11-tetradecenyl acetate. Surprisingly, OnOr1, 3 and 5 responded to all four pheromones tested (Z11- and E11-tetradecenyl acetate, and Z12- and E12-tetradecenyl acetate) and to Z9-tetradecenyl acetate, a behavioral antagonist. OnOr1 was selective for E12-tetradecenyl acetate based on an efficacy that was at least 5-fold greater compared to the other four components. This combination of specifically- and broadly-responsive pheromone receptors corresponds to published results of sensory neuron activity in vivo . Receptors broadly-responsive to a class of pheromone components may provide a mechanism for variation in the male moth response that enables population level shifts in pheromone blend use.