Smita Mohanty, Oklahoma State University
The ability to respond to chemical stimuli is a fundamental behavior of all organisms. Lepidoptera male moths have an exquisitely sensitive olfactory system that is capable of perceiving airborne pheromone molecules released by females and responding to them over great distances. Pheromone binding proteins (PBPs) located in the antennae of male moths play an important role in olfaction. They are carrier proteins that pick up volatile hydrophobic pheromone molecules at high pH and transport them across the aqueous sensillar lymph releasing at low pH near the membrane-bound olfactory neuron. Unraveling the mysteries of pheromone binding and release controlled by changes in pH is critical not only to our understanding of insect olfaction but also for any future investment on control of the olfactory behavior of deleterious insects that are voracious agricultural pests of many important crops through pheromone based integrated pest management.