University of Oulu

Odour sensing by insect olfactory receptor neurons: measurements of odours based on action potential analysis

Saved in:
Author: Huotari, Matti1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Department of Electrical and Information Engineering
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.9 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: 2004
Publish Date: 2004-11-23
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Technology, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium TA105, Linnanmaa, on December 3rd, 2004, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Professor Uwe T. Koch
Professor Jukka Lekkala


This thesis is a study of the odour responses of insect olfactory (or odorant) receptor neurons (ORN) of blowfly (Calliphora vicina), mosquito (Aedes communis), fruitflies (Drosophila melanogaster and D. virilis) and large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis). A power-law dependence (similar to Stevens’ law in psychophysics) was obtained for the action potential rate of ORN responses vs. odour concentration in measurements with metal microelectrodes from blowfly ORNs and an analysis system was developed for the extracellularily recorded action potentials (or nerve pulses).

Odour exposure sequences were used to study action potential rates quantitatively as a function of odour concentration in air exposure. For an odour exposure sequence, a known initial amount of the odour compound in a filter paper inside a Pasteur pipette at the beginning of repeated exposures caused a gradual dilution of the odour concentration in the exposure sequence. The concentration at each exposure was calculated according to the discrete multiple headspace extraction and dilution (DMHED) method. The estimated odour concentration was assumed to obey in the method an exponential law with respect to the exposure number in the sequence. Despite that many uncontrollable parameters remain for measuring quantitatively the characteristics of the ORNs, the results obtained, e.g., sensitivity, specificity, adaptability, and the power-law realation are both biologically and technically very interesting.

A time-to-voltage converter (TVC) was utilized for the response analysis in determining action potential intervals originating from a single ORN. A precision analysis of TVC was also performed.

With the mosquito (Aedes communis), fruitflies (Drosophila melanogaster and D. virilis) and large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis) antennae were tested for inhibitory and excitatory effects to find out repellents and attractants. Human sweat was found to cause strong stimulus exposure in the responses of the mosquito ORNs and Neutroil® caused inhibitory responses in pine weevil ORNs, respectively.

The power-law exponents for blowfly ORNs were about 0.19 in the case of 1-hexanol (HX), 0.065 in the case of 1,4-diaminobutane (14DAB) and 0.32 in the case of butyric acid (BA). The corresponding Stevens’ law exponent values 0.39 and 0.33 have been reported for HX and BA, respectively, by Patte et al. (1975).

see all

Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. C, Technica
ISSN-E: 1796-2226
ISBN: 951-42-7591-8
ISBN Print: 951-42-7590-X
Issue: 214
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2004. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.