Antiaphrodisiacs in pierid butterflies: a theme with variation!
ABSTRACT Male Pieris napi butterflies previously have been shown to synthesize and transfer an antiaphrodisiac, methyl salicylate (MeS), to females at mating. This substance curtails courtship and decreases the likelihood of female remating. Here, we show that similar systems occur in Pieris rapae and Pieris brassicae. In P. rapae, 13C-labeling studies showed that males utilize the amino acids phenylalanine and tryptophan as precursors to MeS and indole, respectively. These volatiles are transferred to females at mating and function as antiaphrodisiacs, as demonstrated by field tests entailing painting MeS, indole, or a mixture on the abdomens of virgin females and assessing their attractiveness to wild males. With P. brassicae, 13C-labeling studies showed that males use phenylalanine as a precursor to synthesize benzyl cyanide, which was demonstrated to function as an antiaphrodisiac by field tests similar to those for P. rapae. This communication system exhibits both similarities and differences among the three species; in P. napi and P. rapae, males are fragrant but transfer a volatile antiaphrodisiac to females that is completely different from the male odor, whereas in P. brassicae the antiaphrodisiac transferred by male to female is identical with male odor.
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ABSTRACT: Pheromones are intraspecific chemical signals. They can have profound effects on the behaviour and/or physiology of the receiver, and it is still common to hear pheromones described as controlling of the behaviour of the receiver. The discussion of pheromonal control arose initially from a close association between hormones and pheromones in the comparative physiological literature, but the concept of a controlling pheromone is at odds with contemporary signal evolution theory, which predicts that a manipulative pheromonal signal negatively affecting the receiver's fitness should not be stable over evolutionary time. Here we discuss the meaning of pheromonal control, and the ecological circumstances by which it might be supported. We argue that in discussing pheromonal control it is important to differentiate between control applied to the effects of a pheromone on a receiver's physiology (proximate control), and control applied to the effects of a pheromone on a receiver's fitness (ultimate control). Critically, a pheromone signal affecting change in the receiver's behaviour or physiology need not necessarily manipulate the fitness of a receiver. In cases where pheromonal signalling does lead to a reduction in the fitness of the receiver, the signalling system would be stable if the pheromone were an honest signal of a social environment that disadvantages the receiver, and the physiological and behavioural changes observed in the receiver were an adaptive response to the new social circumstances communicated by the pheromone.Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 06/2014; · 6.63 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Representatives of the highly speciose tropical butterfly genus Bicyclus (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) are characterized by morphological differences in the male androconia, a set of scales and hair pencils located on the surface of the wings. These androconia are assumed to be associated with the release of courtship pheromones. In the present study, we report the identification and biosynthetic pathways of several novel esters from the wings of male B. martius sanaos. We found that the volatile compounds in this male butterfly were similar to female-produced moth sex pheromones. Components associated with the male wing androconial areas were identified as ethyl, isobutyl and 2-phenylethyl hexadecanoates and (11Z)-11-hexadecenoates, among which the latter are novel natural products. By topical application of deuterium-labelled fatty acid and amino acid precursors, we found these pheromone candidates to be produced in patches located on the forewings of the males. Deuterium labels from hexadecanoic acid were incorporated into (11Z)-11-hexadecenoic acid, providing experimental evidence of a Δ11-desaturase being active in butterflies. This unusual desaturase was found previously to be involved in the biosynthesis of female-produced sex pheromones of moths. In the male butterflies, both hexadecanoic acid and (11Z)-11-hexadecenoic acid were then enzymatically esterified to form the ethyl, isobutyl and 2-phenylethyl esters, incorporating ethanol, isobutanol, and 2-phenylethanol, derived from the corresponding amino acids L-alanine, L-valine, and L-phenylalanine.Journal of Chemical Ecology 06/2014; · 2.24 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Highlights ► Male rove beetles Aleochara curtula learn the individual-specific scent of mated females. ► The scent of females is only learned in association with the antiaphrodisiac pheromone. ► The scent cues are provided by the cuticular hydrocarbons of females. ► Males refrain from sexual grasping response when perceiving the scent of a learned female.Animal Behaviour 08/2012; 84(2):369–376. · 3.07 Impact Factor