Putative Neural Network Within an Olfactory Sensory Unit for Nestmate and Non-nestmate Discrimination in the Japanese Carpenter Ant: The Ultra-structures and Mathematical Simulation.
ABSTRACT: Ants are known to use a colony-specific blend of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) as a pheromone to discriminate between nestmates and non-nestmates and the CHCs were sensed in the basiconic type of antennal sensilla (S. basiconica). To investigate the functional design of this type of antennal sensilla, we observed the ultra-structures at 2D and 3D in the Japanese carpenter ant, Camponotus japonicus, using a serial block-face scanning electron microscope (SBF-SEM), and conventional and high-voltage transmission electron microscopes. Based on the serial images of 352 cross sections of SBF-SEM, we reconstructed a 3D model of the sensillum revealing that each S. basiconica houses > 100 unbranched dendritic processes, which extend from the same number of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). The dendritic processes had characteristic beaded-structures and formed a twisted bundle within the sensillum. At the "beads," the cell membranes of the processes were closely adjacent in the interdigitated profiles, suggesting functional interactions via gap junctions (GJs). Immunohistochemistry with anti-innexin (invertebrate GJ protein) antisera revealed positive labeling in the antennae of C. japonicus. Innexin 3, one of the five antennal innexin subtypes, was detected as a dotted signal within the S. basiconica as a sensory organ for nestmate recognition. These morphological results suggest that ORNs form an electrical network via GJs between dendritic processes. We were unable to functionally certify the electric connections in an olfactory sensory unit comprising such multiple ORNs; however, with the aid of simulation of a mathematical model, we examined the putative function of this novel chemosensory information network, which possibly contributes to the distinct discrimination of colony-specific blends of CHCs or other odor detection.
Project description:The antennae of honeybee (Apis mellifera) workers and drones differ in various aspects. One striking difference is the presence of Sensilla basiconica in (female) workers and their absence in (male) drones. We investigate the axonal projection patterns of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) housed in S. basiconica in honeybee workers by using selective anterograde labeling with fluorescent tracers and confocal-microscopy analysis of axonal projections in antennal lobe glomeruli. Axons of S. basiconica-associated ORNs preferentially projected into a specific glomerular cluster in the antennal lobe, namely the sensory input-tract three (T3) cluster. T3-associated glomeruli had previously been shown to be innervated by uniglomerular projection (output) neurons of the medial antennal lobe tract (mALT). As the number of T3 glomeruli is reduced in drones, we wished to determine whether this was associated with the reduction of glomeruli innervated by medial-tract projection neurons. We retrogradely traced mALT projection neurons in drones and counted the innervated glomeruli. The number of mALT-associated glomeruli was strongly reduced in drones compared with workers. The preferential projections of S. basiconica-associated ORNs in T3 glomeruli together with the reduction of mALT-associated glomeruli support the presence of a female (worker)-specific olfactory subsystem that is partly innervated by ORNs from S. basiconica and is associated with the T3 cluster of glomeruli and mALT projection neurons. We propose that this olfactory subsystem supports parallel olfactory processing related to worker-specific olfactory tasks such as the coding of colony odors, colony pheromones and/or odorants associated with foraging on floral resources.
Project description:Diaphorina citri Kuwayama is the most economically important citrus pest which is the primary vector of Candidatus Liberibacter spp. causing citrus greening (huanglongbing, HLB) disease. To better understand the developmental and structural changes of antennae and antennal sensilla in D. citri nymphs, we investigated the antennal morphology, structure and sensilla distribution of the five nymphal stages of D. citri using scanning electron microscopy. The antennae of the five different nymphal stages of D. citri were filiform in shape, which consisted of two segments in the first-, second- and third-instar nymphs; three segments in the fourth- and fifth-instar nymphs. The length of their antennae was significantly increased with the increase of the nymphal instar, as well as the total number of antennal sensilla. Ten morphological sensilla types were recorded altogether. They were the long terminal hair (TH1), short terminal hair (TH2), sensilla trichoidea (ST), cavity sensillum 1 (CvS1), cavity sensillum 2 (CvS2), sensilla basiconica 1-3 (SB1-3), sensilla campaniform (SCA) and partitioned sensory organ (PSO). Also, the distribution of antennal sensilla in each nymphal stage of D. citri was asymmetrical. The SBs only occurred on the antennae of the third-, fourth- and fifth-instar nymphs. Only one CvS2 was found in the third- and fifth-instar nymphs, and one SCA in the fourth- and fifth-instar nymphs, respectively. The possible roles of the nymphal antennal sensilla in D. citri were discussed. The results could contribute to a better understanding of the development of the sensory system, and facilitate future studies on the antennal functions in D. citri nymphs.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Territorial boundaries between conspecific social insect colonies are maintained through nestmate recognition systems. However, in supercolony-forming ants, which have developed an extraordinary social organization style known as unicoloniality, a single supercolony extends across large geographic distance. The underlying mechanism is considered to involve less frequent occurrence of intraspecific aggressive behaviors, while maintaining interspecific competition. Thus, we examined whether the supercolony-forming species, Formica yessensis has a nestmate recognition system similar to that of the multicolonial species, Camponotus japonicus with respect to the cuticular hydrocarbon-sensitive sensillum (CHC sensillum), which responds only to non-nestmate CHCs. We further investigated whether the sensory system reflects on the apparent reduced aggression between non-nestmates typical to unicolonial species.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>F. yessensis constructs supercolonies comprising numerous nests and constitutes the largest supercolonies in Japan. We compared the within-colony or between-colonies' (1) similarity in CHC profiles, the nestmate recognition cues, (2) levels of the CHC sensillar response, (3) levels of aggression between workers, as correlated with geographic distances between nests, and (4) their genetic relatedness. Workers from nests within the supercolony revealed a greater similarity of CHC profiles compared to workers from colonies outside it. Total response of the active CHC sensilla stimulated with conspecific alien CHCs did not increase as much as in case of C. japonicus, suggesting that discrimination of conspecific workers at the peripheral system is limited. It was particularly limited among workers within a supercolony, but was fully expressed for allospecific workers.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>We demonstrate that chemical discrimination between nestmates and non-nestmates in F. yessensis was not clear cut, probably because this species has only subtle intraspecific differences in the CHC pattern that typify within a supercolony. Such an incomplete chemical discrimination via the CHC sensilla is thus an important factor contributing to decreased occurrence of intraspecific aggressive behavior especially within a supercolony.
Project description:The behaviour of the desert locust, Schistocera gregaria, is largely directed by volatile olfactory cues. The relevant odorants are detected by specialized antennal sensory neurons which project their sensory dendrites into hair-like structures, the sensilla. Generally, the responsiveness of the antennal chemosensory cells is determined by specific receptors which may be either odorant receptors (ORs) or variant ionotropic receptors (IRs). Previously, we demonstrated that in locust the co-receptor for ORs (ORco) is only expressed in cells of sensilla basiconica and sensilla trichodea, suggesting that cells in sensilla coeloconica may express different types of chemosensory receptors. In this study, we have identified the genes of S. gregaria which encode homologues of co-receptors for the variant ionotropic receptors, the subtypes IR8a and IR25a. It was found that both subtypes, SgreIR8a and SgreIR25a, are expressed in the antennae of all five nymphal stages and in adults. Attempts to assign the relevant cell types by means of in situ hybridization revealed that SgreIR8a and SgreIR25a are expressed in cells of sensilla coeloconica. Double fluorescence in situ hybridization experiments disclosed that the two IR-subtypes are co-expressed in some cells of this sensillum type. Expression of SgreIR25a was also found in some of the sensilla chaetica, however, neither SgreIR25a nor SgreIR8a was found to be expressed in sensilla basiconica and sensilla trichodea. This observation was substantiated by the results of double FISH experiments demonstrating that cells expressing SgreIR8a or SgreIR25a do not express ORco. These results support the notion that the antenna of the desert locust employs two different populations of OSNs to sense odors; cells which express IRs in sensilla coeloconica and cells which express ORs in sensilla basiconica and sensilla trichodea.
Project description:Species of the click-beetle genus Agriotes Eschscholtz are economically important crop pests distributed mainly in the Northern Hemisphere. They can inflict considerable damage on various field crops. Therefore, the detection, monitoring, and control of Agriotes include the adult trapping using species-specific sex pheromones, which is a critical component of pest research. To obtain a better understanding of the detailed antennal morphology as background information for subsequent chemical ecology research, we conducted a scanning electron microscopy study of the antennal sensilla of both sexes in 10 European Agriotes species. We identified 16 different sensilla in Agriotes, belonging to six main types: sensilla chaetica (subtypes C1 and C2), sensilla trichodea, sensilla basiconica (subtypes B1-B9), dome-shaped sensilla (subtypes D1 and D2), sensilla campaniformia, and Böhm sensilla. We discuss their possible functions and compare the sensilla of Agriotes with those of other Elateridae in order to consolidate the sensillum nomenclature in this family. Additionally, our study reveals the remarkable interspecific variability in sensillar equipment of Agriotes and identifies several characters of potential importance for future use in systematic studies. The present study provides a strong preliminary framework for subsequent research on the antennal morphology of this crop pest on a wider scale.
Project description:In comparison to the large amount of study on the communication abilities of females in ant societies and their associated chemical ecology and sensory physiology, such study of male ants has been largely ignored; accordingly, little is known about their olfactory sensory capabilities. To address this, we explored peripheral odor sensitivities in male Harpegnathos saltator by measuring the electrophysiological activity of olfactory sensory neurons within antennal trichoid and coeloconic sensilla using an extracellular recording technique. In an initial trial of 46 compounds, sensilla trichodea responded strongly to two alarm pheromone components, while a limited number of non-hydrocarbon odorants elicited strong responses in sensilla coeloconica. Both sensillar types responded indifferently to 31 cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) and synthetic long-chain hydrocarbons (HCs) typically found on insect cuticle. In a search for sensilla responding to CHCs and other compounds, we found some sensilla that responded to synthetic HCs and CHCs from virgin queen postpharyngeal glands that are potentially used in close range mate recognition. Olfactometer bioassays of male ants to 15 non-HCs correlated sensory responsiveness to the respective behavioral responses. Comparing olfactory responses between H. saltator males and females, we found that sensilla coeloconica and basiconica of workers showed greater responses and broader selectivity to all compounds. The rarity of CHC-responding trichoid sensilla in Harpegnathos males suggests a more specific role in sexual communication compared to that in females, which use CHCs in a broader communication context.
Project description:We propose a distributed model of nestmate recognition, analogous to the one used by the vertebrate immune system, in which colony response results from the diverse reactions of many ants. The model describes how individual behaviour produces colony response to non-nestmates. No single ant knows the odour identity of the colony. Instead, colony identity is defined collectively by all the ants in the colony. Each ant responds to the odour of other ants by reference to its own unique decision boundary, which is a result of its experience of encounters with other ants. Each ant thus recognizes a particular set of chemical profiles as being those of non-nestmates. This model predicts, as experimental results have shown, that the outcome of behavioural assays is likely to be variable, that it depends on the number of ants tested, that response to non-nestmates changes over time and that it changes in response to the experience of individual ants. A distributed system allows a colony to identify non-nestmates without requiring that all individuals have the same complete information and helps to facilitate the tracking of changes in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles, because only a subset of ants must respond to provide an adequate response.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The oriental fruit moth Grapholita molesta is a host-switching pest species. The adults highly depend on olfactory cues in locating optimal host plants and oviposition sites. Odorant binding proteins (OBPs) are thought to be responsible for recognizing and transporting hydrophobic odorants across the aqueous sensillum lymph to stimulate the odorant receptors (ORs) within the antennal sensilla and activate the olfactory signal transduction pathway. Exploring the physiological function of these OBPs could facilitate understanding insect chemical communications. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDING:Two antennae-specific general OBPs (GOBPs) of G. molesta were expressed and purified in vitro. The binding affinities of G. molesta GOBP1 and 2 (GmolGOBP1 and 2) for sex pheromone components and host plant volatiles were measured by fluorescence ligand-binding assays. The distribution of GmolGOBP1 and 2 in the antennal sensillum were defined by whole mount fluorescence immunohistochemistry (WM-FIHC) experiments. The binding sites of GmolGOBP2 were predicted using homology modeling, molecular docking and site-directed mutagenesis. Both GmolGOBP1 and 2 are housing in sensilla basiconica and with no differences in male and female antennae. Recombinant GmolGOBP1 (rGmolGOBP1) exhibited broad binding properties towards host plant volatiles and sex pheromone components; rGmolGOBP2 could not effectively bind host plant volatiles but showed specific binding affinity with a minor sex pheromone component dodecanol. We chose GmolGOBP2 and dodecanol for further homology modeling, molecular docking, and site-directed mutagenesis. Binding affinities of mutants demonstrated that Thr9 was the key binding site and confirmed dodecanol bonding to protein involves a hydrogen bond. Combined with the pH effect on binding affinities of rGmolGOBP2, ligand binding and release of GmolGOBP2 were related to a pH-dependent conformational transition. CONCLUSION:Two rGmolGOBPs exhibit different binding characteristics for tested ligands. rGmolGOBP1 has dual functions in recognition of host plant volatiles and sex pheromone components, while rGmolGOBP2 is mainly involved in minor sex pheromone component dodecanol perception. This study also provides empirical evidence for the predicted functions of key amino acids in recombinant protein ligand-binding characteristics.
Project description:It was previously thought that the odorant binding proteins (OBPs) in the sensillum lymph might serve as carriers, which could carry lipophilic odorant molecules to olfactory receptors. In this study, two novel OBP genes of the scarab beetle Holotrichia oblita were screened using an antennal cDNA library. The full cDNA of HoblOBP3 and HoblOBP4 was cloned using reverse transcription PCR and rapid amplification of the cDNA ends. Homology modeling of both OBPs was performed using SWISS-MODEL on-line tools. Next, the two OBPs were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified using Ni ion affinity chromatography. The ligand-binding properties of HoblOBP3 and HoblOBP4 in 42 ligands respectively were measured using the fluorescence probe N-phenyl-naphthylamine (1-NPN). The results obtained from competitive binding assays demonstrated that HoblOBP4 showed a broader range of binding affinities to the test compounds, while HoblOBP3 displays more specific binding affinity. Furthermore, other OBPs and CSPs were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified using Ni ion affinity chromatography. Binding curves were measured for binary mixtures of OBPs and CSPs using 1-NPN, and the Scatchard plots exhibited "J"-like nonlinear correlation trends in some samples. In addition, competitive binding assays of the HoblOBP1 and HoblOBP2 mixtures and of the HoblOBP2 and HoblOBP4 mixtures with representative compounds unexpectedly demonstrated good affinity, which revealed extreme differences that were only obtained using the individual proteins. In the immunocytochemical analysis, colocalization of HoblOBP1 and HoblOBP2, and of HoblOBP2 and HoblOBP4, was detected in the sensilla basiconica and sensilla placodea, respectively. All of these results suggested that HoblOBP1 and HoblOBP2, as well as HoblOBP2 and HoblOBP4, may serve as heterodimers in the sensillum lymph.
Project description:Lowered insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling (IIS) can extend healthy lifespan in worms, flies, and mice, but it can also have adverse effects (the "insulin paradox"). Chronic, moderately lowered IIS rescues age-related decline in neurotransmission through the Drosophila giant fiber system (GFS), a simple escape response neuronal circuit, by increasing targeting of the gap junctional protein innexin shaking-B to gap junctions (GJs). Endosomal recycling of GJs was also stimulated in cultured human cells when IIS was reduced. Furthermore, increasing the activity of the recycling small guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) Rab4 or Rab11 was sufficient to maintain GJs upon elevated IIS in cultured human cells and in flies, and to rescue age-related loss of GJs and of GFS function. Lowered IIS thus elevates endosomal recycling of GJs in neurons and other cell types, pointing to a cellular mechanism for therapeutic intervention into aging-related neuronal disorders.