Transformation of the sex pheromone signal in the noctuid moth Agrotis ipsilon: from peripheral input to antennal lobe output

Chem Senses. 2010 Oct;35(8):705-15. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjq069. Epub 2010 Jul 2.


How information is transformed along synaptic processing stages is critically important to understand the neural basis of behavior in any sensory system. In moths, males rely on sex pheromone to find their mating partner. It is essential for a male to recognize the components present in a pheromone blend, their ratio, and the temporal pattern of the signal. To examine pheromone processing mechanisms at different levels of the olfactory pathway, we performed single-cell recordings of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) in the antenna and intracellular recordings of central neurons in the macroglomerular complex (MGC) of the antennal lobe of sexually mature Agrotis ipsilon male moths, using the same pheromone stimuli, stimulation protocol, and response analyses. Detailed characteristics of the ORN and MGC-neuron responses were compared to describe the transformation of the neuronal responses that takes place in the MGC. Although the excitatory period of the response is similar in both neuron populations, the addition of an inhibitory phase following the MGC neuron excitatory phase indicates participation of local interneurons (LN), which remodel the ORN input. Moreover, MGC neurons showed a wider tuning and a higher sensitivity to single pheromone components than ORNs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Male
  • Moths / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / physiology
  • Sex Attractants / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Sex Attractants