Journal Article

Appetitive and Aversive Learning in <i>Spodoptera littoralis</i> Larvae

Ali Salloum, Violaine Colson and Frédéric Marion-Poll

in Chemical Senses

Volume 36, issue 8, pages 725-731
Published in print October 2011 | ISSN: 0379-864X
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3553 | DOI:
Appetitive and Aversive Learning in Spodoptera littoralis Larvae

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Adult Lepidoptera are capable of associative learning. This helps them to forage flowers or to find suitable oviposition sites. Larval learning has never been seriously considered because they have limited foraging capabilities and usually depend on adults as concerns their food choices. We tested if Spodoptera littoralis larvae can learn to associate an odor with a tastant using a new classical conditioning paradigm. Groups of larvae were exposed to an unconditioned stimulus (US: fructose or quinine mixed with agar) paired with a conditioned stimulus (CS: hexanol, geraniol or pentyl acetate) in a petri dish. Their reaction to CS was subsequently tested in a petri dish at different time intervals after conditioning. Trained larvae showed a significant preference or avoidance to CS when paired with US depending on the reinforcer used. The training was more efficient when larvae were given a choice between an area where CS–US was paired and an area with no CS (or another odor). In these conditions, the memory formed could be recalled at least 24 h after pairing with an aversive stimulus and only 5 min after pairing with an appetitive stimulus. This learning was specific to CS because trained larvae were able to discriminate CS from another odor that was present during the training but unrewarded. These results suggest that Lepidoptera larvae exhibit more behavioral plasticity than previously appreciated.

Keywords: learning; Lepidoptera; olfaction; paradigm; taste

Journal Article.  5109 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Molecular and Cell Biology

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