SSE Talks


Disproving The Current Theory Of Insect Olfaction: Temporal Evidence
May 12, 2010 at 4:50 PM EST | T. DYKSTRA


Tom Dykstra


The current theory of insect olfaction has the odorant, such as a pheromone, 1) diffusing through the air, 2) attaching to the insect antennae, 3) migrating to the sensillae and then into the sensillar pores, 4) binding with a pheromone binding protein (PBP), 5) diffusing across a sea of sensillar lymph, 6) dissociating with the PBP, and then 7) binding to a membrane bound dendritic pheromone receptor to effectively initiate the classic action potential so widely documented among entomologists. Each of these steps has a specified time period, and none of them can overlap with one another. However, the final step has not been demonstrated. Since no bona fide binding has been shown between a pheromone and a pheromone receptor this leads to one of two conclusions. Either binding occurs and has not been shown yet, or there is no binding of the pheromone at all. Since the former relies on faith, no further consideration on this seems warranted. If the latter, then some doubt occurs as to whether all the previous and dependent steps occur at all. Recent publications are reporting on temporal events related to this process. This allows for a solid temporal analysis to be performed on this hypothetical system. According to the predominant theory, there is only one overriding mechanism, that being diffusion. This simplifies the analysis, and allows for a brief discussion of some basic physical laws. Pulling from the scientific literature allows for the simplest calculations to be made regarding the interaction times or transport times of the pheromone at each of the necessary steps outlined above. Each of these steps will be temporally analyzed and presented. The literature reports that instigation of a nervous impulse (unequivocal detection of a pheromone) once reaching the external sensillae takes from between 1 and 10 ms. Summation of the temporal parts of the processes of interaction and transport, reveal that the pheromone cannot reach the dendritic membrane in less than 10 ms. In fact, it must be considerably slower, and may be on the order of seconds to minutes. This startling revelation points toward the inadequacy of the current theory of insect olfaction and suggests another mechanism must be occurring.


Tom is a Cornell trained entomologist who now resides in Florida. He owns his own bioelectromagnetics laboratory (Dykstra Laboratories, Inc., and is currently developing insect traps for the stored product and agricultural industries.




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