Structure and distribution of the sensilla on the antennae of Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae).
The tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), is a widespread devastating pest that develops on tomato and other economically important solanaceous crops. Current semiochemically-based management strategies still fail to significantly reduce damages and need to be improved. Here we describe under scanning and transmission electron microscopy the structure and distribution of the sensilla that are displayed on adult antennae. These were similar in size between males (3424.4±135.3 µm) and females (3292.1±111.5 µm), being segmented into a scape, a pedicel, and a distal filiform flagellum. Eight morphological sensilla types were observed on both sexes: Böhm's bristles, sensilla squamiformia, sensilla trichodea, sensilla basiconica (two subtypes), sensilla chaetica, sensilla coeloconica, sensilla auricillica, and sensilla styloconica. The main sexual dimorphism was related to the higher abundance of sensilla trichodea in males, twice as abundant as in females. The putative functional significance of the different sensilla types regarding the insect ecology is discussed based on the available literature. This work provides descriptions of the antennae and related sensory structures. We expect these results to help develop further electrophysiological investigations aiming to a better understanding of T. absoluta olfaction.