Age-dependent plasticity of sex pheromone response in the moth, Agrotis ipsilon: combined effects of octopamine and juvenile hormone

Horm Behav. 2009 Jun;56(1):185-91. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2009.04.005. Epub 2009 May 3.


Male moths use sex pheromones to find their mating partners. In the moth, Agrotis ipsilon, the behavioral response and the neuron sensitivity within the primary olfactory centre, the antennal lobe (AL), to sex pheromone increase with age and juvenile hormone (JH) biosynthesis. By manipulating the JH level, we previously showed that JH controls this age-dependent neuronal plasticity, and that its effects are slow (within 2 days). We hypothesized that the hormonal effect might be indirect, and one neuromodulator candidate, which might serve as a mediator, is octopamine (OA). Here, we studied the effects of OA and an OA receptor antagonist, mianserin, on behavioral and AL neuron responses of mature and immature males during stimulation with sex pheromone. Our results indicate that, although OA injections enhanced the behavioral pheromone response in mature males, OA had no significant effect on behavior in immature males. However, mianserin injections decreased the behavioral response in mature males. AL neuron sensitivity increased after OA treatment in immature males, and decreased after mianserin treatment in mature males. Determination of OA levels in ALs of immature and mature males did not reveal any difference. To study the possible interactive effects of JH and OA, the behavioral pheromone response was analyzed in JH-deprived mature males injected with OA, and in immature males injected with fenoxycarb, a JH agonist, and mianserin. Results show that both JH and OA are necessary to elicit a behavioral response of A. ipsilon males to sex pheromone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Juvenile Hormones / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mianserin / administration & dosage
  • Microelectrodes
  • Moths / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Octopamine / metabolism*
  • Phenylcarbamates / administration & dosage
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Receptors, Biogenic Amine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Sensory Thresholds / drug effects
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Sex Attractants / metabolism*


  • Juvenile Hormones
  • Phenylcarbamates
  • Receptors, Biogenic Amine
  • Sex Attractants
  • norsynephrine receptor
  • Octopamine
  • Mianserin
  • fenoxycarb