Antennal responses of the two host races of the larch bud moth, Zeiraphera diniana, to larch and cembran pine volatiles

Z. Syed, P. M. Guerin, W. Baltensweiler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The larch bud moth (LBM) Zeiraphera diniana Guenée causes defoliation on larch in the Alps at 8- to 10-year intervals, after which populations crash. There are two LBM host races, one on larch and the other on cembran pine. These host races are morphologically indistinguishable as adults but they differ genetically in larval color types. Furthermore, females of each host race produce distinct pheromone blends and show oviposition preferences for their respective hosts. It is not clear to what extent host choice contributes to assortative mating in the LBM. Here, we compare the olfactory sensitivities of the two host races to the odors of fresh foliage of the host plants using the electroantennogram (EAG) technique, and the responses of the two host races to volatiles collected from the two host plants as analyzed by gas-chromatography-linked antennographic detection (GC-EAD). Both sexes of the larch and cembran host races show the same EAG responses to vapors of fresh larch and cembran pine foliage. Fifteen plant volatiles identified as chemostimuli by GC-EAD from larch and cembran pine odors elicited the same antennogram responses from the two host races., However, the GC-EAD analyses indicate that the number and quantity of chemostimuli emanating from each host plant is different. It is, therefore, most probably the array of olfactory receptors responding to the bouquet of volatiles unique to each host plant that underlies the host preferences of the two races. What remains open is the extent to which the similarity of the olfactory systems may contribute to cross-attraction. The fact that LBM individuals with intermediate characteristics between the two host races exist, suggests that olfactory perception does not hinder gene flow and contributes to sustained genetic diversity within the species Z. diniana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1691-1708
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Antennogram
  • Host races
  • Larch bud moth
  • Larix decidua
  • Pinus cembra
  • Plant volatiles
  • Zeiraphera diniana

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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