Moving beyond convergence in the pheromone system of the moth
© Buckley and Nowotny; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2009
Published: 13 July 2009
Male moths can sense and locate conspecific females releasing small amounts of pheromone from more than a mile away . Integral to this behavior is the extraordinary sensitivity of the male moths olfactory apparatus to pheromone molecules. This apparatus involves the transduction of molecular binding events in large populations of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and their convergent projections onto relatively small numbers of neurons in the macro glomerular complex (MGC). Schneider calculated a behavioral threshold of the pheromone system of 200 molecular binding events at the antennae . Recently Angioy et al. have reported that fluctuations of the male moths cardiac rhythm were elicited with a calculated 6 molecular events at the antennae . While it has been demonstrated that ORN are capable of producing spikes after only a single molecular binding event the overall sensitivity of the systems is limited by noise in the ORNs. The statistical properties of the convergence pathways from ORNs to the neurons of the MGC have been suggested as a possible solution to this problem . In this work we analyze a statistical model in order to investigate whether the signal to noise (SNR) enhancement properties of convergent projections are sufficient to explain the sensitivity of moths to low pheromone concentrations.
Model and conclusion
This work was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (grant no. BB/F005113/1).
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