Odorant-binding proteins and olfactory coding in the solitary bee Osmia cornuta

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Aug;70(16):3029-39. doi: 10.1007/s00018-013-1308-2. Epub 2013 Mar 20.


Solitary bees are major pollinators but their chemical communication system has been poorly studied. We investigated olfactory coding in Osmia cornuta from two perspectives, chemical and biochemical. We identified (E)-geranyl acetone and 2-hexyl-1,3-dioxolane, specifically secreted by females and males, respectively. A transcriptome analysis of antennae revealed 48 ORs (olfactory receptors), six OBPs (odorant-binding proteins), five CSPs (chemosensory proteins), and a single SNMP (sensory neuron membrane protein). The numbers of ORs and OBPs are much lower than in the honeybee, in particular, C-minus OBPs are lacking in the antennae of O. cornuta. We have expressed all six OBPs of O. cornuta and studied their binding specificities. The best ligands are common terpene plant odorants and both volatiles produced by the bee and identified in this work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Arthropod Antennae / metabolism
  • Bees / genetics
  • Bees / metabolism
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics
  • Receptors, Odorant / metabolism
  • Receptors, Odorant / physiology*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism
  • Smell / genetics
  • Smell / physiology*


  • Insect Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Odorant
  • odorant-binding protein