Int J Biol Sci 2017; 13(6):759-771. doi:10.7150/ijbs.19820

Research Paper

Two Olfactory Pathways to Detect Aldehydes on Locust Mouthpart

Liwei Zhang, Hongwei Li, Long Zhang

Department of Entomology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, PR China


Sensing chemical cues is crucial for insects through their olfactory systems to adapt the environments. The receptors employed in insect olfactory system belong to the Odorant Receptor (ORs) and Ionotropic Receptor (IRs) families. In general, ORs and IRs are present in distinct olfactory sensory neurons and function independently. Here, we present evidence that in locust, the abundant host plant odor Hexanal is detected by both IR- and OR-expressing neurons. Use of the palp opening response (POR) as a simple behavioral paradigm in conjunction with RNA interference (RNAi) revealed that these two pathways are both needed for the detection of Hexanal. Two-color fluorescence in situ hybridization showed that OR2 and odorant-binding protein 1 (obp1) were co-localized in palps sensilla basiconica. Obp2a and IR8a were co-localized as well, but associated with sensilla chaetica on the palps. Furthermore, both OR2- and obp1-knockdowns showed reduced POR responses to Hexanal and E-2-Hexenal, and the same was true for Hexanal with IR8a- and obp2a-knockdowns. Detection to E-2-Hexenal was independent of IR8a-mediated gene silencing. Besides, Hexanal and E-2-Hexenal evoked dose-dependent responses in palp basiconica via extracellular recordings. Our results indicate that both OR and IR pathways are involved in the detection of one aldehyde.

Keywords: palp opening response, odorant receptor, inotropic receptor, odorant-binding protein, RNAi, aldehydes.

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How to cite this article:
Zhang L, Li H, Zhang L. Two Olfactory Pathways to Detect Aldehydes on Locust Mouthpart. Int J Biol Sci 2017; 13(6):759-771. doi:10.7150/ijbs.19820. Available from