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Odour Maps in the Brain of Butterflies with Divergent Host-Plant Preferences
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9190-6873
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3187-3555
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2011 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 6, no 8, e24025Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Butterflies are believed to use mainly visual cues when searching for food and oviposition sites despite that their olfactory system is morphologically similar to their nocturnal relatives, the moths. The olfactory ability in butterflies has, however, not been thoroughly investigated. Therefore, we performed the first study of odour representation in the primary olfactory centre, the antennal lobes, of butterflies. Host plant range is highly variable within the butterfly family Nymphalidae, with extreme specialists and wide generalists found even among closely related species. Here we measured odour evoked Ca2+ activity in the antennal lobes of two nymphalid species with diverging host plant preferences, the specialist Aglais urticae and the generalist Polygonia c-album. The butterflies responded with stimulus-specific combinations of activated glomeruli to single plant-related compounds and to extracts of host and non-host plants. In general, responses were similar between the species. However, the specialist A. urticae responded more specifically to its preferred host plant, stinging nettle, than P. c-album. In addition, we found a species-specific difference both in correlation between responses to two common green leaf volatiles and the sensitivity to these compounds. Our results indicate that these butterflies have the ability to detect and to discriminate between different plant-related odorants.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 6, no 8, e24025
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-62479DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024025ISI: 000294298000039OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-62479DiVA: diva2:442225
Available from: 2011-09-20 Created: 2011-09-20 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Mechanistic aspects of host plant preference in butterflies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mechanistic aspects of host plant preference in butterflies
2012 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Searching and locating resources is essential for survival. In herbivorous insects search behavior is conducted on several scales, requiring input and integration of information from different sensory modalities. Even though it is known that vision, olfaction and contact-chemoreception are employed to detect, navigate towards and evaluate resources their exact contribution is poorly known. To shed light on the importance of the different sensory modalities, one has to start with separating the stimuli of different quality from each other and to inspect them under controlled conditions. Olfactory cues are blends of volatile compounds emitted by plants that are used by many Lepidoptera and other insects to navigate towards targets. Despite this knowledge, butterflies are generally considered to rely mainly on visual cues. Following several indications that butterflies also use olfactory cues in search for targets, this thesis investigated the olfactory capabilities of two nymphalid butterfly species with different degrees of host plant specializations. In Paper I optical imaging studies on the primary olfactory center, the antennal lobe, revealed a well developed olfactory system. The two species responded similarly to the tested odorants, but the specialist butterfly Aglais urticae seemed to respond more discriminatively towards its host plant Urtica dioica than the generalist species Polygonia c-album. In Paper II we used a behavioral assay to verify the assumption that the two butterfly species can use olfactory cues to navigate towards odor targets. The two tested species differed in their responses in both studies with respect to their ecology. Inferior discrimination abilities of the generalist species are discussed in the light of possible neural processing constraints.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2012. 24 p.
National Category
Ecology Zoology
Research subject
Animal Ecology; Ethology; Zoology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-84504 (URN)
Available from: 2013-01-22 Created: 2012-12-24 Last updated: 2015-01-12Bibliographically approved
2. Evolutionary and mechanistic aspects of insect host plant preference
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evolutionary and mechanistic aspects of insect host plant preference
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Plant feeding insects comprise about 25% of all animal species on earth and play an important role in all ecosystems. Although we understand that their association with plants is a key-factor driving the diversification in this group, we still have large gaps in our knowledge of the underlying processes of this relationship. Female choice of host plant is an important event in the insect life-cycle, as it is a major determinant of the larval food plant. In this Thesis I studied different aspects of insect host plant choice and used butterflies from the family Nymphalidae as my study system. I found that butterflies have a well developed olfactory system and that they use odors when searching for food or host plants. However, the information obtained from the odor of host plants does not seem to be sufficient for the studied species to make a distinction between plants of different qualities. Interestingly, even when in full contact with the leaf they do not make optimal decisions. I show for example that a sub-optimal female choice may be mitigated by larval ability to cope with unfavorable situations. Moreover, species that utilize a broader set of host plants may not be very well adapted to all the hosts they use, but at the same time they may survive in areas where there is only a subset of the plants available. Lastly, differences in the evolution of life-history traits between species can account for differences in how each species realizes its lifestyle. Thus, by incorporating findings on mechanisms of host plant choice with the ecological and evolutionary context of a species, our ability to explain the dynamics of host plant choice and insect-plant interactions can be improved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2016. 25 p.
Keyword
host plant choice, host range, diet breadth, butterfly, oviposition, specialist, generalist, insect-plant interaction, search behavior, olfaction, decision making, evolution, parasite-host interaction
National Category
Evolutionary Biology Ecology Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-128488 (URN)978-91-7649-381-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-05-20, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
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Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2016-04-27 Created: 2016-03-30 Last updated: 2017-02-24Bibliographically approved

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