Dr. Coby Schal, Blanton J. Whitmire Professor of Entomology at NC State and the corresponding author of a paper describing the discovery, says that the study, published the week of Dec. 19 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, advances the knowledge of fundamental biological and chemical properties of an important North American cockroach genus that serves as both a beneficial forest insect and as a pest in homes.
Parcoblatta lata is the largest and most abundant of the wood cockroaches. It also serves as the favored meal of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Schal says that the study, which characterized the pheromone and produced a synthetic version of it, could help scientists determine whether certain habitats have enough woodpecker food. If the synthetic pheromone attracts large numbers of adult male P. lata cockroaches, Schal says, then the roach supply is probably ample. Provided that other aspects of the habitat are also right, the area could be a suitable home for red-cockaded woodpeckers.
Besides feeding woodpeckers, Parcoblatta adult males are excellent flyers that occasionally infest houses after being attracted to porch lights. The pheromone could help control wood roaches near homes, Schal says.
Schal and colleagues from New York and California combined a number of study methods to understand P. lata’s aphrodisiac. The team used gas chromatography, in which compounds are separated in a controllable oven, to separate it from other chemical compounds that the roaches produce. By connecting this instrument to the antenna of P. lata and monitoring its electrical activity, the researchers zeroed in on the biologically active compound. They then used nuclear magnetic resonance to determine the pheromone’s chemical structure. Finally, they made a synthetic version of the compound to see if it would attract adult male P. lata.
It did. Perhaps surprisingly, it attracted a few other Parcoblatta species, as well. One common wood roach, however, was conspicuously absent: Parcoblatta pennsylvanica, which ignored the synthetic pheromone. As its name implies, P. pennsylvanica has populations into the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states.
“Parcoblatta cockroaches are endemic to North America; unlike pest cockroaches, they were not introduced from other places,” Schal says. “The compound we identified is a major component of a multi-component sex pheromone blend. So learning that the chemical we identify in this paper attracts some Parcoblatta species but not others tells us something about their evolutionary history.”
The roaches that respond to this pheromone probably make up a group of closely related species, Schal says, which together diverged from other Parcoblatta species that either can’t smell this chemical or are attracted to it only when it’s combined with other, yet to be identified, pheromone components.
Dorit Eliyahu, Satoshi Nojima and Cesar Gemeno, all former members of Schal’s lab, and Richard Santangelo, an NC State research specialist, co-authored the paper. Researchers from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the University of California-Davis also co-authored the study. The research was supported by the Blanton J. Whitmire Endowment at NC State.
Note to editors: An abstract of the paper follows.“An unusual macrocyclic lactone sex pheromone of Parcoblatta lata, a primary food source of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker”
Published: Dec. 19, 2011, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Abstract: Wood cockroaches in the genus Parcoblatta, comprising 12 species endemic to N. America, are highly abundant in southeastern pine forests and represent an important prey of the endangered red cockaded woodpecker, Picoides borealis. The broad wood cockroach, Parcoblatta lata, is among the largest and most abundant of the wood cockroaches, constituting >50% of the biomass of the woodpecker's diet. Because reproduction in red cockaded woodpeckers is dramatically affected by seasonal and spatial changes in arthropod availability, monitoring P. lata populations could serve as a useful index of habitat suitability for woodpecker conservation and forest management efforts. Female P. lata emit a volatile, long distance sex pheromone, which, once identified and synthesized, could be deployed for monitoring cockroach populations. We describe here the identification, synthesis, and confirmation of the chemical structure of this pheromone as (4Z,11Z)-oxacyclotrideca-4,11-dien-2-one (= (3Z,10Z)-dodecadienolide; herein referred to as parcoblattalactone). This macrocyclic lactone is a novel natural product and a new pheromonal structure for cockroaches, highlighting the great chemical diversity that characterizes olfactory communication in cockroaches—each long-range sex pheromone identified to date from different genera belongs to a different chemical class. Parcoblattalactone was biologically active in electrophysiological assays, and attracted not only P. lata, but also several other Parcoblatta species in pine forests, underscoring its utility in monitoring several endemic wood cockroach species in red-cockaded woodpecker habitats.Dr. Coby Schal, 919/515-1821 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mick Kulikowski | Newswise Science News
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences