Phenol and lactone receptors in the distal sensilla of the Haller's organ in Ixodes ricinus ticks and their possible role in host perception

Exp Appl Acarol. 2004;32(1-2):89-102. doi: 10.1023/b:appa.0000018200.24760.78.


Extract of steer wool odor was found to excite olfactory receptor(s) in a wall-pore olfactory sensillum on the distal knoll of the Haller's organ. Three active volatile compounds were revealed in this odor by gas chromatography. Electrophysiological experiments revealed two types of receptors (sensory neurons) within the sensilla examined. One type of receptor responded only to phenolic derivatives, such as o-chlorophenol, o-bromophenol, o-methylphenol, 2,6-dichlorophenol, 2,6-dibromophenol, 2,4,6-trichlorophenol, but not to o-nithrophenol, p-methylphenol, 2,5-dichlorophenol, 3,5-dichlorophenol, 2,6-dinithrophenol, 2,6-dimethylphenol, and pentachlorophenol. The other type of receptor responded only to gamma-valerolactone. It is assumed that these cells play an important role in perception of a host from long distances (10-15 m), which is typical of Ixodes ricinus ticks.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ixodes / physiology*
  • Ixodes / ultrastructure
  • Lactones / metabolism
  • Lactones / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Odorant / physiology*
  • Receptors, Odorant / ultrastructure


  • Lactones
  • Phenols
  • Receptors, Odorant
  • gamma-valerolactone