Electrophysiological characterisation of olfactory sensilla in the black bean aphid, Aphis fabae.
Electrophysiological responses of three different olfactory sensilla (proximal primary rhinaria (PPR), distal primary rhinaria (DPR) and secondary rhinaria (SR)) to the sex pheromone components, nepetalactol, nepetalactone, and a plant volatile, (E)-2-hexenal, were investigated in four different morphs of the black bean aphid, Aphis fabae Scopoli. The DC responses recorded directly from the antennal sensilla and termed electrosensillograms (ESGs) were generally much larger (up to 14 mV) than electroantennogram (EAG) responses (up to 2.5 mV). Characteristic morph-specific response profiles to these compounds were observed in each type of rhinarium and response waveforms were different between (E)-2-hexenal and the sex pheromone components. (E)-2-Hexenal elicited the largest responses at PPR, while nepetalactol and nepetalactone elicited the largest responses at SR in gynoparae and males. Nepetalactol and nepetalactone also showed significant activities on DPR and PPR in all morphs. In contrast, (E)-2-hexenal had almost no activity on SR. However, almost all of the SR investigated in males and gynoparae were sensitive to both nepetalactol and nepetalactone. A small sub-set of male SR responded mainly to nepetalactol. SR of winged virginoparae did not respond to the sex pheromone compounds. Paraffin oil (the solvent control) also elicited significant responses at PPR in virginoparae but not in other morphs. In a further experiment, SR of winged virginoparae showed no response to 30 other plant volatile compounds or the alarm pheromone component, (E)-β-farnesene. Nepetalactol and nepetalactone had similar dose-response profiles in the SR of gynoparae. The results indicate that SR in males and gynoparae are highly specialised to detect sex pheromone compounds, while the DPR and PPR are relatively broadly tuned to both plant volatiles and sex pheromone components. The presence of SR in winged virginoparae that are not responsive to sex pheromone components, alarm pheromone, or any of the plant volatile compounds tested may indicate a possible role of these sensilla to detect, as yet, unknown compound(s) with a high specificity. The present study also suggests that PPR may play a role in detecting paraffin-related compounds such as cuticular hydrocarbons of plants.