Olfactory and Behavioral Mechanisms Underlying Enhanced Mating Competitiveness Following Exposure to Ginger Root Oil and Orange Oil in Males of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, Ceratitis capitata (Diptera: Tephritidae)

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Males of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata, are strongly attracted to various plant odors, and previous work has demonstrated that male exposure to certain odors, including the scent of orange oil (OO) and ginger root oil (GRO), increases their mating success relative to non-exposed males. However, the mechanism(s) underlying this mating increase is not known. Here, we describe several experiments that further investigate the association between GRO- and OO-exposure and male signaling activity, pheromone attractiveness, and mating success in male medflies. Exposure to GRO or OO increased time spent pheromone calling but did not accelerate the rate of male sexual maturation. Using a wind tunnel, we compared female attraction to the pheromone of control, non-exposed males versus males previously exposed to OO or GRO. There was no evidence that GRO exposure enhanced the attractiveness of the male pheromone. The data for OO were inconclusive: females tended to spend more time on spheres emanating pheromone from OO-exposed males than on spheres emanating pheromone from non-exposed males, but the number of female landings did not differ between the two types of pheromone sources. Female choice tests confirmed that GRO- and OO-exposure boost male mating success relative to non-exposed males. Application of GRO directly to the abdomen reduced male mating success, whereas similar application of OO boosted male mating success. The potential role and mode of action of plant chemicals in the mating behavior of male medflies are evaluated in light of these findings.

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