Olfaction in the Colorado beetle at the onset of host plant selection

J.H. Visser

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


<p/>Long-range olfactory orientation of the adult Colorado beetle was studied in a low- speed wind tunnel. The odour of fully grown potato plants elicits an upwind locomotory response in Colorado beetles (odour-conditioned positive anemotaxis), and increases the beetles' speed of locomotion (direct chemo-orthokinesis). The initial olfactory orientation of the Colorado beetle during its search for food, is mainly directed towards solanaceous plant species, thus restricting the final part of host plant selection.<p/>Chemical analysis of potato leaf essential oil revealed the complex of general green leaf volatiles. In the potato leaf odour this complex is composed of cis-3-hexen-1-ol, cis-3-hexenylacetate, trans-2-hexenal and trans-2-hexen-1-ol. The olfactory antennal receptor system of the Colorado beetle is sensitively tuned to the reception of these volatiles, and the single olfactory receptors respond differentially to these component stimuli of potato leaf odour. When their particular ratio in the potato leaf odour has been changed, the beetles no longer react with an odour-conditioned positive anemotaxis. The complex of volatiles, rather than one single compound, is essential for long-range olfactory orientation of the Colorado beetle towards its host plant. The general green leaf volatiles probably occur as important constituents of leaf odours attractive to various phytophagous insects.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • de Wilde, J., Promotor, External person
Award date1 Jun 1979
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publication statusPublished - 1979


  • chrysomelidae
  • nose

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