TitleSensory specificity and speciation: a potential neuronal pathway for host fruit odour discrimination in Rhagoletis pomonella.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsTait C, Batra S, Ramaswamy SSubha, Feder JL, Olsson SB
JournalProc Biol Sci
Date Published2016 Dec 28

Behavioural changes in habitat or mate choice can trigger population divergence, leading to speciation. However, little is known about the neurological bases for such changes. Rhagoletis pomonella (Diptera: Tephritidae) is a model for ecological speciation via host plant shifts. Within the past 180 years, Rhagoletis flies infesting hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) shifted to attack domesticated apple (Malus pumila). The two populations differ in their olfactory preferences for apple versus hawthorn fruit. Here, we looked for patterns of sensory organization that may have contributed to this shift by characterizing the morphology, specificity and distribution of olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) on the antennae of Rhagoletis responding to host fruit and non-host volatiles. Of 28 OSN classes identified, two colocalized OSN pairs were found that specifically responded to the major behavioural attractant and antagonist volatiles for each fly population. A reversal in the response of these OSNs to fruit volatiles, either through a switch in receptor expression between these paired neurons or changes in neuronal projections in the brain, could therefore account for the behavioural difference between apple and hawthorn flies. The finding supports the hypothesis that relatively minor changes in olfactory sensory pathways may contribute to rapid host shifting and divergence in Rhagoletis.

Alternate JournalProc. Biol. Sci.
PubMed ID28003447