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Transgenerational inheritance of learned preferences for novel host plant odors in Bicyclus anynana butterflies

Citation

Gowri, V et al. (2019), Transgenerational inheritance of learned preferences for novel host plant odors in Bicyclus anynana butterflies, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.sbcc2fr25

Abstract

Many phytophagous insects have strong preferences for their host plants, which they recognize via odors, making it unclear how novel host preferences develop in the course of insect diversification. Insects may learn to prefer new host plants via exposure to their odors and pass this learned preference to their offspring. We tested this hypothesis by examining larval odor preferences before and after feeding them with leaves coated with control and novel odors and by examining odor preferences again in their offspring. Larvae of the parental generation developed a preference for two of these odors over their development. These odor preferences were also transmitted to the next generation. Offspring of butterflies fed on these new odors chose these odors more often than offspring of butterflies fed on control leaves. In addition, offspring of butterflies fed on banana odors had a significant naïve preference for the banana odors in contrast to the naïve preference for control leaves shown by individuals of the parental generation. Thus, butterflies can learn to prefer novel host plant odors via exposure to them during larval development and transmit these learned preferences to their offspring. This ability potentially facilitates shifts in host plant use over the course of insect diversification.

Methods

Please see the method section of the article for details on the dataset collection

Funding

Ministry of Education - Singapore, Award: MOE2018-T2-1-092