Identification of multiple odorant receptors essential for pyrethrum repellency in Drosophila melanogaster.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Pyrethrum extract from dry flowers of Tanacetum cinerariifolium (formally Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium) has been used globally as a popular insect repellent against arthropod pests for thousands of years. However, the mechanistic basis of pyrethrum repellency remains unknown. In this study, we found that pyrethrum spatially repels and activates olfactory responses in Drosophila melanogaster, a genetically tractable model insect, and the closely-related D. suzukii which is a serious invasive fruit crop pest. The discovery of spatial pyrethrum repellency and olfactory response to pyrethrum in D. melanogaster facilitated our identification of four odorant receptors, Or7a, Or42b, Or59b and Or98a that are responsive to pyrethrum. Further analysis showed that the first three Ors are activated by pyrethrins, the major insecticidal components in pyrethrum, whereas Or98a is activated by (E)-β-farnesene (EBF), a sesquiterpene and a minor component in pyrethrum. Importantly, knockout of Or7a, Or59b or Or98a individually abolished fly avoidance to pyrethrum, while knockout of Or42b had no effect, demonstrating that simultaneous activation of Or7a, Or59b and Or98a is required for pyrethrum repellency in D. melanogaster. Our study provides insights into the molecular basis of repellency of one of the most ancient and globally used insect repellents. Identification of pyrethrum-responsive Ors opens the door to develop new synthetic insect repellent mixtures that are highly effective and broad-spectrum.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wang, Q; Xu, P; Andreazza, F; Liu, Y; Nomura, Y; Duran, P; Jiang, L; Chen, M; Takamatsu, G; Ihara, M; Matsuda, K; Isaacs, R; Oliveira, EE; Du, Y; Dong, K

Published Date

  • July 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 17 / 7

Start / End Page

  • e1009677 -

PubMed ID

  • 34237075

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8291717

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1553-7404

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1553-7390

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009677


  • eng