Taste sensitivity and divergence in host plant acceptance between adult females and larvae of Papilio hospiton

Sollai Giorgia
Biolchini Maurizio;Crnjar Roberto


On the island of Sardinia the lepidopteran Papilio hospiton uses Ferula communis as exclusive host-plant. However, on the small island of Tavolara, adult females lay eggs on Seseli tortuosum, a plant confined to the island. When raised in captivity on Seseli only few larvae grew beyond the first-second instar. Host specificity of lepidopterans is determined by female oviposition preferences, but also by larval food acceptance, and adult and larval taste sensitivity may be related to host selection in both cases. Aim of this work was: (i) to study the taste sensitivity of larvae and ovipositing females to saps of Ferula and Seseli; (ii) to cross-compare the spike activity of gustatory receptor neurons (GRNs) to both taste stimuli; (iii) to evaluate the discriminating capability between the two saps and determine which neural code/s is/are used. The results show that: (i) the spike responses of the tarsal GRNs of adult females to both plant saps are not different and therefore they cannot discriminate the two plants; (ii) larval L-lat GRN shows a higher activity in response to Seseli than Ferula, while the opposite occurs for the phagostimulant neurons, and larvae may discriminate between the two saps by means of multiple neural codes; (iii) the number of eggs laid on the two plants is the same, but the larval growth performance is better on Ferula than Seseli. Taste sensitivity differences may explain the absence of a positive relationship between oviposition preferences by adult females and plant acceptance and growth performance by larvae.
Esperti anonimi
chemoreception; feeding acceptance; host plant discrimination; neural coding; oviposition preference; Papilionidae
Sollai, Giorgia; Biolchini, Maurizio; Crnjar, Roberto
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