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 At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
16.02.2018 | Florida Museum of Natural History

nachricht New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom
16.02.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>