Two closely located areas in the suboesophageal ganglion and the tritocerebrum receive projections of gustatory receptor neurons located on the antennae and the proboscis in the mothHeliothis virescens

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Sucrose stimulation of gustatory receptor neurons on the antennae, the tarsi, and the mouthparts elicits the proboscis extension reflex in many insect species, including lepidopterans. The sensory pathways involved in this reflex have only partly been investigated, and in hymenopterans only. The present paper concerns the pathways of the gustatory receptor neurons on the antennae and on the proboscis involved in the proboscis extension reflex in the moth Heliothis virescens (Lepidoptera; Noctuidae). Fluorescent dyes were applied to the contact chemosensilla, sensilla chaetica on the antennae, and sensilla styloconica on the proboscis, permitting tracing of the axons of the gustatory receptor neurons in the central nervous system. The stained axons showed projections from the two appendages in two closely located but distinct areas in the suboesophageal ganglion (SOG)/tritocerebrum. The projections of the antennal gustatory receptor neurons were located posterior-laterally to those from the proboscis. Electrophysiological recordings from the receptor neurons in s. chaetica during mechanical and chemical stimulation were performed, showing responses of one mechanosensory and of several gustatory receptor neurons. Separate neurons showed excitatory responses to sucrose and sinigrin. The effect of these two tastants on the proboscis extension reflex was tested by repeated stimulations with solutions of the two compounds. Whereas sucrose elicited extension in 100% of the individuals in all repetitions, sinigrin elicited extension in fewer individuals, a number that decreased with repeated stimulation.

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