Transient post-mating inhibition of behavioural and central nervous responses to sex pheromone in an insect

C Gadenne, M C Dufour, Sylvia Anton

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Mating is costly for both male and female insects and should therefore only occur if it is likely to be successful. Within one scotophase, which is the dark period of the light cycle, male moths can only produce one single spermatophore, which is transferred to the female during mating. Remating within the same scotophase would thus be unsuccessful. We tested the hypothesis that newly mated males of the moth Agrotis ipsilon have developed an energy-saving strategy based on the transient inhibition of their sexual behaviour, thus avoiding unsuccessful remating. Agrotis ipsilon males do not copulate more than once during the same scotophase. Moreover, newly mated males do not respond behaviourally to the female sex pheromone although electroantennograms showed that their peripheral olfactory system is fully functional. However, intracellular recordings of antennal lobe neurons showed that the sensitivity for the synthetic sex pheromone blend decreased as compared with that of unmated males. Both the sexual behaviour and the sensitivity of the antennal lobe neurons were restored when tested during the next scotophase. Our results show a fast, transient neuronal plasticity that 'switches off' the olfactory system, which could prevent males from mating unsuccessfully.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1631-1635
JournalRoyal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
Issue number1476
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Department of Ecology (Closed 2011) (011006010), Chemical Ecology/Ecotoxicology (Closed 2011) (011006020)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ecology


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