In desert locusts Schistocerca gregaria, aggregation behaviour is elicited by aggregation pheromones. In this study, we show that the behavioural response to the major and most potent adult aggregation pheromone component, phenylacetonitrile, is age- and juvenile-hormone-dependent. Furthermore, we show that juvenile hormone influences the responsiveness of olfactory interneurons in the antennal lobe to aggregation pheromone, whereas the responsiveness of antennal receptor neurons is not changed. Old locusts and locusts injected with juvenile hormone, in contrast to young locusts and locusts deprived of juvenile hormone through allatectomy, i.e. after surgical removal of the gland producing this hormone, do not display any aggregation behaviour, as indicated by long-term behavioural observations. The lack of positive olfactory-guided behaviour coincides with an impairment of the central olfactory system, which displays a lower number of neurons responding to aggregation pheromone. Indirect and direct actions of juvenile hormone at different levels of the central nervous system may thus contribute to the regulation and modulation of behavioural responsiveness in the locust.

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