Trans-sexually grafted antennae alter pheromone-directed behaviour in a moth

Nature. 1986 Oct 30-Nov 5;323(6091):801-3. doi: 10.1038/323801a0.


When tobacco hornworm moths (Manduca sexta) are tested in a wind tunnel with a source of female pheromones upwind, males but not normal females show pheromone-modulated anemotaxis and a characteristic mate-seeking behavioural sequence. These behaviours are produced by stimulation of sensory neurones found only in male antennae. These neurones project axons only to dendrites of pheromone-specific interneurones in the macroglomerular complex, a region of neuropil in the antennal lobe characteristic of males but not present in normal females. Some interneurones in the antennal lobes of female moths that have received grafts of male antennae (gynandromorphs) respond postsynaptically to stimulation with bombykal, a major component of the pheromone. They branch into a region resembling the macroglomerular complex, like their counterparts in normal males. We show here that gynandromorphic females respond to pheromonal stimulation with anemotaxis. We also find that normal females display a similar sequence in response to the odour of their egg-laying site, the tobacco plant. It is likely that a common motor path is used either by pheromone-specific interneurones in the antennal lobes of males or by tobacco-specific interneurones in females. We assume that the interneurones in gynandromorphic females that branch into the macroglomerular complex induced by a grafted male antenna can activate this pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Lepidoptera / physiology*
  • Male
  • Moths / physiology*
  • Pheromones / physiology*
  • Sense Organs / physiology*
  • Sense Organs / transplantation
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal


  • Pheromones