Functional characterization of odorant receptors from Lampronia capitella suggests a non-ditrysian origin of the lepidopteran pheromone receptor clade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The odorant receptors (ORs) of insects are crucial for host and mate recognition. In moths (Lepidoptera), specialized ORs are involved in male detection of the sex pheromone produced by females. Most moth sex pheromones are C10-C18 acetates, alcohols, and aldehydes (Type I pheromones), and most pheromone receptors (PRs) characterized to date are from higher Lepidoptera (Ditrysia), responding to these types of compounds. With few exceptions, functionally characterized PRs fall into what has been called the “PR-clade” which also contains receptors that have yet to be characterized. While it has been suggested that moth PRs have evolved from plant odor-detecting ORs, it is not known when receptors for Type I pheromones arose. This is largely due to a lack of functionally characterized PRs from non-ditrysian Lepidoptera. The currant shoot borer moth, Lampronia capitella (Prodoxidae), belongs to a non-ditrysian lineage, and uses Type I pheromone compounds. We identified 53 ORs from antennal transcriptomes of this species, and analyzed their phylogenetic relationships with known lepidopteran ORs. Using a HEK293 cell-based assay, we showed that three of the LcapORs with male-biased expression (based on FPKM values) respond to Type I pheromone compounds. Two of them responded to pheromone components of L. capitella and one to a structurally related compound. These PRs are the first from a non-ditrysian moth species reported to respond to Type I compounds. They belong to two of the more early-diverging subfamilies of the PR-clade for which a role in pheromone detection had not previously been demonstrated. Hence, our definition of the monophyletic lepidopteran PR-clade includes these receptors from a non-ditrysian species, based on functional support.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Zoology


  • Adeloidea, HEK293 cells, Heterologous expression, PR-Clade, Sex pheromone
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun 9
Publication categoryResearch

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