Odorant degrading carboxylesterases modulate foraging and mating behaviors of Grapholita molesta

Hongshuang Wei, Shuqian Tan, Zhen Li, Jiancheng Li, Timothy W. Moural, Fang Zhu, Xiaoxia Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Odorant degrading carboxylesterases (CXEs) play key roles in the process of odor signal reception via degrading ester odorants. But the functional mechanisms of CXEs in modulating insect behaviors are unclear. Herein, we studied the roles that CXEs played in mating, foraging, and signal receptions of sex pheromones and host volatiles in Grapholita molesta. As a result, 23 candidate CXEs were identified by transcriptome analysis of G. molesta. The GmolCXE1 and 5 highly expressed in the antennae of male moths and GmolCXE14 and 21 abundantly expressed in larval heads, were significantly upregulated after exposure with odors from female adults or fresh ripe fruits respectively. After knockdown of GmolCXE1 and 5, or GmolCXE14 and 21 by RNA interference, the behavioral responses of G. molesta to ester sex pheromones or host volatiles were decreased, by exhibiting an inhibited searching behavior of G. molesta for females or fruits, respectively. Then evidence form GC-MS analysis, showed that the protein GmolCXE1 and GmolCXE5 could metabolize the sex pheromone components (Z/E)-8-dodecenyl acetate to their metabolites products (Z/E)-8-dodecenol, and that GmolCXE14 and GmolCXE21 could metabolize ethyl butanoate and ethyl hexanoate of ripe pears. In addition, fluorescent binding assays verified that GmolCXEs could degrade the free ester odor molecules, but not degrade the odor molecules protected by odorant-binding proteins. Our study not only demonstrated CXEs modulated the mating and foraging behaviors of G. molesta through inactivation of ester sex pheromone and host volatiles, but also discovered great potential molecular targets to develop behavioral inhibitors for pest management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128647
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • General Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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