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Volume 2012, Article ID 149572, 14 pages
Review Article

Mechanisms of Odor Coding in Coniferous Bark Beetles: From Neuron to Behavior and Application

Department of Biology, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden

Received 3 October 2011; Accepted 12 December 2011

Academic Editor: John A. Byers

Copyright © 2012 Martin N. Andersson. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Coniferous bark beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae) locate their hosts by means of olfactory signals, such as pheromone, host, and nonhost compounds. Behavioral responses to these volatiles are well documented. However, apart from the olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) detecting pheromones, information on the peripheral olfactory physiology has for a long time been limited. Recently, however, comprehensive studies on the ORNs of the spruce bark beetle, Ips typographus, were conducted. Several new classes of ORNs were described and odor encoding mechanisms were investigated. In particular, links between behavioral responses and ORN responses were established, allowing for a more profound understanding of bark beetle olfaction. This paper reviews the physiology of bark beetle ORNs. Special focus is on I. typographus, for which the available physiological data can be put into a behavioral context. In addition, some recent field studies and possible applications, related to the physiological studies, are summarized and discussed.