A novel lineage of candidate pheromone receptors for sex communication in moths
Arthur de Fouchier,
Anne de Cian,
William B. Walker,
Posted 20 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/707174 (published DOI: 10.7554/eLife.49826)
Posted 20 Jul 2019
Sex pheromone receptors (PRs) are key players in chemical communication between mating partners in insects. In the highly diversified insect order Lepidoptera, male PRs tuned to female-emitted type I pheromones (which make up the vast majority of pheromones identified) form a dedicated subfamily of odorant receptors (ORs). Here, using a combination of heterologous expression and in vivo genome editing methods, we bring functional evidence that at least one moth PR does not belong to this subfamily but to a distantly related OR lineage. This PR, identified in the cotton leafworm Spodoptera littoralis, is over-expressed in male antennae and is specifically tuned to the major sex pheromone component emitted by females. Together with a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of moth ORs, our functional data suggest two independent apparitions of PRs tuned to type I pheromones in Lepidoptera, opening up a new path for studying the evolution of moth pheromone communication.
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