Sexual dimorphism in visual and olfactory brain centers in the perfume-collecting orchid bee Euglossa dilemma (Hymenoptera, Apidae).

Antoine Couto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Insect mating behavior is controlled by a diverse array of sex-specific traits and strategies that evolved to maximize mating success. Orchid bees exhibit a unique suite of perfume-mediated mating behaviors. Male bees collect volatile compounds from their environment to concoct species-specific perfume mixtures that are presumably used to attract conspecific females. Despite a growing understanding of the ecology and evolution of chemical signaling in orchid bees, many aspects of the functional adaptations involved, in particular regarding sensory systems, remain unknown. Here we investigated male and female brain morphology in the common orchid bee Euglossa dilemma Bembé & Eltz. Males exhibited increased relative volumes of the Medulla, a visual brain region, which correlated with larger compound eye size (area). While the overall volume of olfactory brain regions was similar between sexes, the antennal lobes exhibited several sex-specific structures including one male-specific macroglomerulus. These findings reveal sexual dimorphism in both the visual and the olfactory system of orchid bees. It highlights the tendency of an increased investment in the male visual system similar to that observed in other bee lineages, and suggests that visual input may play a more important role in orchid bee male mating behavior than previously thought. Furthermore, our results suggest that the evolution of perfume communication in orchid bees did not involve drastic changes in olfactory brain morphology compared to other bee lineages.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalThe Journal of comparative neurology
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2018

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