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Insect Odour Perception: Recognition of Odour Components by Flower Foraging Moths
John Paul Cunningham, Chris J. Moore, Myron P. Zalucki and Bronwen W. Cribb
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 273, No. 1597 (Aug. 22, 2006), pp. 2035-2040
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25223562
Page Count: 6
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Odours emitted by flowers are complex blends of volatile compounds. These odours are learnt by flower-visiting insect species, improving their recognition of rewarding flowers and thus foraging efficiency. We investigated the flexibility of floral odour learning by testing whether adult moths recognize single compounds common to flowers on which they forage. Dual choice preference tests on Helicoverpa armigera moths allowed free flying moths to forage on one of three flower species; Argyranthemum frutescens (federation daisy), Cajanus cajan (pigeonpea) or Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco). Results showed that, (i) a benzenoid (phenylacetaldehyde) and a monoterpene (linalool) were subsequently recognized after visits to flowers that emitted these volatile constituents, (ii) in a preference test, other monoterpenes in the flowers' odour did not affect the moths' ability to recognize the monoterpene linalool and (iii) relative preferences for two volatiles changed after foraging experience on a single flower species that emitted both volatiles. The importance of using free flying insects and real flowers to understand the mechanisms involved in floral odour learning in nature are discussed in the context of our findings.
Proceedings: Biological Sciences © 2006 Royal Society