Temporal modulation and adaptive control of the behavioural response to odours in Rhodnius prolixus

J Insect Physiol. 2008 Sep;54(9):1343-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2008.07.004. Epub 2008 Jul 23.


It has been demonstrated in several insect species that a circadian clock makes the whole of antennal chemoreceptors more sensitive during a particular temporal window every day. This assessment raises the question about how insects exhibiting bimodal activity handle their sensitivity to odours which are relevant at different moments of the day. To shed some light on this problem, we studied in Rhodnius prolixus the daily dynamics of their responsiveness to CO(2) (host-associated cue) and aggregation cues (refuge-associated), which are relevant at dusk and dawn, respectively. We analysed: (1) whether a temporal modulation of the responsiveness to odours does exist in R. prolixus, (2) if this modulation is a general one or it is specific for each type of volatile, and (3) if it is controlled by exogenous or endogenous mechanisms. We found that the responsiveness to CO(2) only occurs at dusk and that to assembling odours is restricted to dawn. Experiments under free-running conditions revealed that only the responsiveness to CO(2) is controlled by a circadian clock, but not that to assembling signals. Thus, by combining endogenous and exogenous mechanisms, sensitivities to different odours are adjusted according to their associated behavioural context and moment of the day.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior*
  • Carbon Dioxide / physiology*
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Feces
  • Odorants
  • Rhodnius / physiology*


  • Carbon Dioxide