Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Sex Pheromone Blocked in Bug


Male scarab beetles use their antennae to follow a female’s scent. (Walter Leal/UC Davis photo)

Science can put a dent in the sex life of a scarab beetle by blocking its ability to pick up female scent, according to Walter Leal, professor of entomology at UC Davis. The research could eventually lead to methods to control insect pests without affecting harmless or beneficial insects.

"Chemical communication is the prime means of communication in insects," Leal said. If those communications can be controlled in the environment, insect pests could be prevented from breeding, he said.

Female pale-brown chaffers, a scarab beetle that is an agricultural pest in Japan, release a chemical signal or pheromone to attract males.

Insects smell through their antennae. Inside the antennae, pheromone molecules hit a specific switch that sends a nerve signal to the insect’s brain. Before the switch can fire again, it must be reset by removing the pheromone, like a wine-taster rinsing her palate.

As they fly toward the female, the male beetles come across wafts of pheromone separated by periods of no scent. To get an accurate reading and stay on course, the beetle must constantly reset its pheromone detection system.

Leal worked with Martine Maibeche-Coisne and Emmanuelle Jacquin-Joly at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Paris, France; Alexander Nikonov at the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan; and Yuko Ishida at UC Davis. They identified an enzyme called CYP4AW1, expressed in the antennae, that breaks down the pheromone.

When beetles were exposed to both pheromone and metyrapone, a chemical that specifically blocks the enzyme, they could smell the pheromone at first but then could not reset their antennae. They were unable to smell new doses pheromone for several minutes.

The treatment had no effect on other insects, because the enzyme is very specific to that pheromone, Leal said.

The same principles could be applied to agricultural pests and to disease-carrying mosquitoes, he said. For example, female mosquitoes find hosts by smell and use pheromones to guide other females to good egg-laying sites.

The work was published July 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA online.

Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>