Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2016) 113, E6401-E6408

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Fotini A. Koutroumpa, Astrid T. Groot, Teun Dekker and David G. Heckel (2016)
Genetic mapping of male pheromone response in the European corn borer identifies candidate genes regulating neurogenesis
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113 (42), E6401-E6408
Abstract: The sexual pheromone communication system of moths is a model system for studies of the evolution of reproductive isolation. Females emit a blend of volatile components that males detect at a distance. Species differences in female pheromone composition and male response directly reinforce reproductive isolation in nature, because even slight variations in the species-specific pheromone blend are usually rejected by the male. The mechanisms by which a new pheromone signal–response system could evolve are enigmatic, because any deviation from the optimally attractive blend should be selected against. Here we investigate the genetic mechanisms enabling a switch in male response. We used a quantitative trait locus-mapping approach to identify the genetic basis of male response in the two pheromone races of the European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis. Male response to a 99:1 vs. a 3:97 ratio of the E and Z isomers of the female pheromone is governed by a single, sex-linked locus. We found that the chromosomal region most tightly linked to this locus contains genes involved in neurogenesis but, in accordance with an earlier study, does not contain the odorant receptors expressed in the male antenna that detect the pheromone. This finding implies that differences in the development of neuronal pathways conveying information from the antenna, not differences in pheromone detection by the odorant receptors, are primarily responsible for the behavioral response differences among the males in this system. Comparison with other moth species reveals a previously unexplored mechanism by which male pheromone response can change in evolution.
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Database assignments for author(s): Astrid T. Groot, David G. Heckel

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Ostrinia nubilalis