[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cholesteryl esters were found to constitute a major component of the lipids coating the body cuticle of females of the camel tick, Hyalomma dromedarii and the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. One or more cholesteryl esters, alone or in combination, have been shown to serve as the mounting sex pheromone of several species of ixodid ticks. Consequently, knowledge of these compounds is important for an understanding of the mating behavior of these ticks. Based on thin layer chromatography, cholesterol and cholesteryl esters were the most abundant neutral lipids found on the body surfaces of fed females of these two species. Analysis using HPLC demonstrated significant quantities of the following compounds, tentatively identified as cholesteryl esters (expressed in micrograms per female equivalent), in H. dromedarii: Cholesteryl acetate 18.2; cholesteryl laurate, 6.8; cholesteryl linoleate, 24.8; cholesteryl oleate, 12.9; cholesteryl palmitate, 0.3; and cholesteryl stearate 1.7. In contrast, the same method revealed only 3 cholesteryl esters in extracts of females of R. sanguineus: Cholesteryl acetate, 2.0; cholesteryl linoleate, 8.5; and cholesteryl oleate, 3.0. In both species, two unidentified peaks, with the spectral characteristics of cholesteryl esters, were also observed. Identification of the cholesteryl esters was confirmed: by (1) positive bioassay results with conspecific (H. dromedarii) males and heterospecific (Dermacentor variabilis) males; (2) similarity of ultraviolet spectra between identified sample peaks and authentic standards; and (3) demonstration of cholesterol and the corresponding free fatty acid following enzymatic digestion of each of the HPLC-separated fractions containing the different cholesteryl esters. Comparisons with the cholesteryl ester composition of the mounting sex pheromone of other metastriate Ixodidae are discussed. These findings, along with studies reported previously, suggest that differences in the mounting sex pheromones of ixodid ticks are an important factor in minimizing heterospecific matings in nature.
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