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Learning the way to blood: first evidence of dual olfactory conditioning in a blood-sucking insect, Rhodnius prolixus. II. Aversive learning.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  21865516     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Data-Review    
After having demonstrated that blood-sucking bugs are able to associate a behaviourally neutral odour (l-lactic acid) with positive reinforcement (i.e. appetitive conditioning) in the first part of this study, we tested whether these insects were also able to associate the same odour with a negative reinforcement (i.e. aversive conditioning). Learned aversion to host odours has been repeatedly suggested as a determinant for the distribution of disease vectors among host populations. Nevertheless, no experimental evidence has been obtained so far. Adapting a classical conditioning approach to our haematophagous model, we trained larvae of Rhodnius prolixus to associate l-lactic acid, an odour perceived by bugs but behaviourally neutral when presented alone, with a mechanical perturbation (i.e. negative reinforcement). Naive bugs and bugs exposed to CS, punishment, or CS and punishment without contingency remained indifferent to the presence of an air stream loaded with l-lactic acid (random orientation on a locomotion compensator), whereas the groups previously exposed to the contingency CS-punishment were significantly repelled by l-lactic acid. In a companion paper, the opposite, i.e. attraction, was induced in bugs exposed to the contingency of the same odour with a positive reinforcement. These constitute the first pieces of evidence of olfactory conditioning in triatomine bugs and the first demonstration that the same host odour can be used by insects that are disease vectors to learn to recognize either a host to feed on or a potentially defensive one. The orientation mechanism during repulsion is also discussed in light of our results.
Clément Vinauger; Laura Buratti; Claudio R Lazzari
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of experimental biology     Volume:  214     ISSN:  1477-9145     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Exp. Biol.     Publication Date:  2011 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-08-25     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0243705     Medline TA:  J Exp Biol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  3039-45     Citation Subset:  IM    
Institut de Recherche sur la Biologie de l'Insecte, UMR CNRS 6035, Université François Rabelais, 37200 Tours, France.
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