Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How longhorned beetles find Mr. Right

28.05.2015

A longhorned beetle's sexy scent might make a female perk up her antennae. But when the males of several species all smell the same, a female cannot choose by cologne alone.

For these beetles to find a mate of the right species, timing is everything, according to research from a University of Arizona-led team.


Many longhorned beetles, such as this Neoclytus mucronatus, attract mates by exuding a sex pheromone. For some species, success also requires exuding their signature perfume at just the right time of day and time of year.

Credit: Robert F. Mitchell, University of Arizona

"We found that beetles that produce the same pheromone are active at different times of day - and that beetles that are active at the same time of day produce different pheromones," said lead author Robert F. Mitchell, a UA research associate in the department of neuroscience and the Center for Insect Science.

In addition, the team found that some of the beetle species that used the same pheromone stayed true to their species by segregating their mating activity by season of the year.

Many animals use chemicals called pheromones to communicate.

"Smell is an underappreciated sense in people - but when you talk about insects, many 'see' their world in chemicals," said Mitchell, a fellow in the Postdoctoral Excellence in Research and Teaching program. "The most common thing they say with pheromones is, 'I'm looking for a mate.'"

Scientists generally expect each insect species to have its own signature perfume to attract suitable mates. When an insect emits its unique sexual attractant, potential suitors can come a-courting from hundreds of yards away.

However, the family of longhorned beetles presents a puzzle: Many species use the same pheromone, Mitchell said. The situation seemed to contradict the generally accepted idea of one species-one pheromone.

Once the team figured out the various beetle species sent out their scent signals during different parts of the year and at different times of the day, it all made sense, Mitchell said.

"Our research provides a framework for understanding how insects that produce the same pheromone can produce separate signals," he said.

Research on insect pheromones has practical applications, he said. "Pheromones are promising alternatives to pesticides as a means of monitoring and controlling pests."

For example, by baiting traps with the appropriate pheromone, scientists can detect pest insects and monitor their movements. In the Western U.S., pheromones are used to combat a longhorned beetle known as the California prionus that is a pest on hops, Mitchell said.

Using pheromones can also reveal the presence of destructive invasive species such as the Asian longhorned beetle.

The research team's paper, "Cerambycid beetle species with similar pheromones are segregated by phenology and minor pheromone components," is featured on the cover of the May issue of the Journal of Chemical Ecology. A list of the authors is at the end of this story.

As part of his doctoral research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mitchell studied the chemical attractants for dozens of species of longhorned beetles native to deciduous forests of eastern North America. The beetles bore into the woody stems of dead shrubs and trees.

He later focused on 11 species all attracted to the same chemical. When he and his colleagues put traps baited with that pheromone out in the woods, after 24 hours the traps contained "a big multi-species party."

Initially, Mitchell and his colleagues were baffled. Such a multi-species party didn't make sense, he said, because mating outside one's species doesn't result in viable offspring.

"We asked, 'How do they tell each other apart if they're all producing the same thing?'" he said.

The team had been using traps that collected all the beetles attracted in a 24-hour period.

Senior author Lawrence M. Hanks learned about a rotating trap that could separate beetles by the time of day they entered the trap. That setup allowed the scientists to test whether different species were attracted only at certain times of day.

By using the rotating traps, the researchers found some species visited primarily in the daytime, some came in the early evening and some came at night. Other experiments revealed that the 11 species also searched for mates at different times in the spring.

Finally, the team found that species completely overlapping in time would add additional scents that put off other species while attracting their own.

Some exotic longhorned beetles such as the Asian longhorned beetle have been introduced to the U.S. in packing materials such as wooden pallets.

The scientists write in their paper that if an invasive species used the same pheromone as a complex of native species, the chemicals emitted by the natives might prevent the invaders from finding suitable mates.

"Our native beetles might be unwittingly defending us against invaders," Mitchell said.

###

Mitchell's co-authors are: Peter F. Reagel, now of USDA APHIS PPQ, Laredo, Texas; Joseph C. H. Wong and Linnea R. Meier, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Weliton Dias Silva, University of São Paulo, Brazil; Judith Mongold-Diers, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Jocelyn G. Millar, University of California, Riverside; and Lawrence M. Hanks, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Alphawood Foundation of Chicago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health (5K12 GM000708-15) and CAPES-Foundation-Brazil funded the research.

Researcher contact:

Rob Mitchell
rfmitchell@email.arizona.edu
520-621-6631

Media contact:

Mari N. Jensen
520-626-9635
mnjensen@email.arizona.edu

Related Web sites:

UA Department of Neuroscience

http://neurosci.arizona.edu/

Center for Insect Science

http://cis.arl.arizona.edu/

Mari N. Jensen | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

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...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

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...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

An LED-based device for imaging radiation induced skin damage

30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>