Evolution of behavioral responses to sex pheromone in mutant laboratory colonies of Trichoplusia ni

Young Biao Liu, Kenneth F. Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Male cabbage looper moths, Trichoplusia ni, from two colonies in which all females express an abnormal sex pheromone production phenotype were evaluated in a laboratory wind tunnel for upwind flight responses to the normal and abnormal sex pheromones. The abnormal sex pheromone blend consisted of 20 times as much (Z)-9-tetradecenyl acetate and 30-fold less (Z)-5-dodecenyl acetate compared to the normal pheromone blend. Initially, these males exhibited poor behavioral responses to the abnormal sex pheromone and maximum responses to the normal pheromone blend, indicating that there was no linkage between signal production and response. After 49 generations of laboratory rearing, males from the mutant colonies maintained good responses to the normal pheromone and increased their behavioral response to the abnormal sex pheromone to the same levels as for the normal pheromone. Over the same period, normal males maintained their preference for the normal pheromone. These results indicated that evolution had occurred in mutant colonies in favor of greater male responsiveness to the abnormal sex pheromone, resulting in the broadening of the response spectrum to pheromone blend ratios. This evolution presumably resulted from a mating advantage to those males that did not discriminate against mutant-type females in the mutant colonies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-238
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1994


  • Lepidoptera
  • Noctuidae
  • Trichoplusia ni
  • behavior
  • evolution
  • sex pheromone
  • sexual selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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