Antiaphrodisiacs in Pierid Butterflies: A Theme with Variation!

Department of Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Group of Ecological Chemistry, Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden.
Journal of Chemical Ecology (Impact Factor: 2.75). 07/2003; 29(6):1489-99. DOI: 10.1023/A:1024277823101
Source: PubMed


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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Available from: Christer Wiklund, Dec 29, 2015
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    • "We controlled for any possible interference of the NaOH treatment with male-female chemical communication by only using virgin females, who lack the male-transferred pheromone. Additionally, treatment with NaOH would be unlikely to mimic P. rapae antiaphrodisiac pheromone, which is a methyl salicylate and indole solution (Andersson et al. 2003). As expected, spectra from pteridine-extracted females presented higher UV and lower long-wave reflectance than those from control females (Fig. 1). "
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    • "napi (Andersson et al. 2007; Bergström and Lundgren 1973), P. rapae and P. brassicae (Andersson et al. 2003; Yildizhan et al. 2009) from the subfamily Pierinae. In contrast to moths that generally use de novo synthesised compounds to produce volatile signals, butterflies often utilize chemical substances acquired from plants in scent production (Boppré 1984; Schulz et al. 2004). "
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    • "Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analyses A solid-phase microextraction (SPME) method using polydimethylsiloxane-divinylbenzene fibers (PDMS/DVB, 65 μm×2 cm) was coupled to a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) in order to sample the volatile components from the scent organs, following a procedure very similar to that described by Andersson et al. (2003). Vials containing the samples and the PDMS/DVB fibres were equilibrated at 60 °C for 30 min in order to adsorb the volatile components from the samples to the fibres and afterwards the volatile components were desorbed by heating the vials at 250 °C for 5 min in the GC injector with a 1 ml/min He gas flow. "
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