Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cockroach Hookup Signal Could Benefit Endangered Woodpecker

20.12.2011
A North Carolina State University discovery of the unique chemical composition of a cockroach signal – a “Let’s hook up” sex pheromone emitted by certain female wood cockroaches to entice potential mates – could have far-ranging benefits, including improved conservation of an endangered woodpecker.

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”
Authors: Dorit Eliyahu, Satoshi Nojima, Richard G Santangelo, Cesar Gemeno and Coby Schal, North Carolina State University; Shannon Carpenter, Francis X Webster and David J Kiemle, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York; Walter S Leal, University of California-Davis

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 coby_schal@ncsu.edu
Mick Kulikowski, News Services, 919/515-8387 or mick_kulikowski@ncsu.edu

Mick Kulikowski | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.nsu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>