Behavioral and physiological responses of Drosophila melanogaster and D. suzukii to volatiles from plant essential oils.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Insects rely on their sense of smell to locate food and hosts, find mates and select sites for laying eggs. Use of volatile compounds, such as essential oils (EOs), to repel insect pests and disrupt their olfaction-driven behaviors has great practical significance in integrated pest management. However, our knowledge on the olfaction-based mechanisms of EO repellency is quite limited.


We evaluated the repellency of peppermint oil and nine plant EO components in Drosophila melanogaster, a model insect for olfaction study, and D. suzukii, a major fruit crop pest. All nine volatiles, menthone, (-)-menthol, menthyl acetate, (R)-(+)-limonene, nerol, (+)-fenchone, (-)-α-thujone, camphor, norcamphor and peppermint oil, elicited repellency in D. melanogaster in a dose-dependent manner. Most of the compounds, except camphor, also elicited repellency in D. suzukii. Menthone, (R)-(+)-limonene and (+)-fenchone were the most potent repellents against D. suzukii. Repellency was reduced or abolished in two D. melanogaster mutants of the odorant receptor co-receptor (Orco), indicating that the observed repellency is odorant receptor (Or)-mediated. Repellency by peppermint oil, menthone, (R)-(+)-limonene, (-)-α-thujone and norcamphor also involves Or-independent mechanism(s). Single sensillum recording from both species revealed that common and distinct Ors and olfactory receptor neurons were activated by these compounds.


The tested plant EO components evoke repellency by activating multiple Ors in both Drosophila species. Our study provides a foundation for further elucidation of the mechanism of EOs repellency and species-specific olfactory adaptations. © 2021 Society of Chemical Industry.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wang, Q; Xu, P; Sanchez, S; Duran, P; Andreazza, F; Isaacs, R; Dong, K

Published Date

  • August 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 77 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 3698 - 3705

PubMed ID

  • 33442945

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1526-4998

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1526-498X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/ps.6282


  • eng