Odorant-binding proteins OBP57d and OBP57e affect taste perception and host-plant preference in Drosophila sechellia

PLoS Biol. 2007 May;5(5):e118. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050118.


Despite its morphological similarity to the other species in the Drosophila melanogaster species complex, D. sechellia has evolved distinct physiological and behavioral adaptations to its host plant Morinda citrifolia, commonly known as Tahitian Noni. The odor of the ripe fruit of M. citrifolia originates from hexanoic and octanoic acid. D. sechellia is attracted to these two fatty acids, whereas the other species in the complex are repelled. Here, using interspecies hybrids between D. melanogaster deficiency mutants and D. sechellia, we showed that the Odorant-binding protein 57e (Obp57e) gene is involved in the behavioral difference between the species. D. melanogaster knock-out flies for Obp57e and Obp57d showed altered behavioral responses to hexanoic acid and octanoic acid. Furthermore, the introduction of Obp57d and Obp57e from D. simulans and D. sechellia shifted the oviposition site preference of D. melanogaster Obp57d/e(KO) flies to that of the original species, confirming the contribution of these genes to D. sechellia's specialization to M. citrifolia. Our finding of the genes involved in host-plant determination may lead to further understanding of mechanisms underlying taste perception, evolution of plant-herbivore interactions, and speciation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Morinda
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Oviposition / genetics
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Plants, Toxic
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics
  • Receptors, Odorant / physiology*
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Receptors, Odorant
  • odorant-binding protein

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AB232138
  • GENBANK/AB232139
  • GENBANK/AB232140
  • GENBANK/AB232141
  • GENBANK/AB232142
  • GENBANK/AB232143