Taste receptor plasticity in relation to feeding history in two congeneric species of Papilionidae (Lepidoptera)

Sollai, Giorgia
Biolchini, Maurizio;Crnjar, Roberto


In the peripheral taste system of insects, the responsiveness of gustatory receptor neurons (GRNs) depends on several factors, such as larval instar, feeding history, physiological state and time of day. To study the role of the feeding history, the spike activity of the maxillary taste chemosensilla in the larvae of two related species of Lepidoptera (Papilio machaon L. and Papilio hospiton Géné) raised on different host plants, was recorded with electrophysiological techniques after stimulation with simple stimuli (sugars, bitters and inorganic salt) and host plant saps, with the aim of cross-comparing their response patterns and evaluating any effects of different feeding histories. For this purpose the larvae were raised each on their preferential host plant and, in addition, P. machaon larvae was also raised on Ferula communis, the host plant preferred by P. hospiton. The GRN spike activity of the lateral and medial sensilla of each test group was measured in response to simple and complex stimuli. The taste discrimination capabilities and modalities of the two species were measured and cross-compared with the aim of studying convergence and/or divergence linked to the insect feeding history. The results show that: a) the GRN responsiveness of both sensilla in P. machaon raised on Fe. communis differs significantly from that of P. machaon on Foeniculum vulgare, but is not different from P. hospiton on Fe. communis; b) P. machaon larvae raised on Fe. communis exhibit response spectra somewhat intermediate between those of P. machaon on fennel and of P. hospiton on Fe. communis, the latter two exhibiting a wider difference from each other; c) the pattern of GRNs activity generated by each plant sap in both sensilla of P. machaon raised on Fe. communis is different from that generated when raised on Fo. vulgare, while no difference is observed with P. hospiton. The data support the hypothesis that diet-related factors may influence peripheral chemosensitivity in lepidopterous larvae.
Esperti anonimi
Discrimination; Insect; Papilio; Sensory coding; Taste receptor plasticity; Physiology; Insect Science
Sollai, Giorgia; Biolchini, Maurizio; Crnjar, Roberto
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