Insects2014, 5(4), 783-792; doi:10.3390/insects5040783 (registering DOI) - published 24 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In late summer, heteroecious aphids, such as the potato aphid, Macrosiphum euphorbiae, move from their secondary summer host plants to primary host plants, where the sexual oviparae mate and lay diapausing eggs. We tested the hypothesis that volatiles of the primary host, Rosa rugosa, would attract the gynoparae, the parthenogenetic alate morph that produce oviparae, as well as the alate males foraging for suitable mates. In wind tunnel assays, both gynoparae and males oriented towards and reached rose cuttings significantly more often than other odour sources, including potato, a major secondary host. The response of males was as high to rose cuttings alone as to potato with a calling virgin oviparous female. These findings are discussed within the seasonal ecology of host alternating aphids.
Abstract: eurygaster integriceps Puton, commonly known as sunn pest, is a major pest of wheat in Northern Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. This insect injects a prolyl endoprotease into the wheat, destroying the gluten. The purpose of this study was to clone the full length cDNA of the sunn pest prolyl endoprotease (spPEP) for expression in E. coli and to compare the amino acid sequence of the enzyme to other known PEPs in both phylogeny and potential tertiary structure. Sequence analysis shows that the 5ꞌ UTR contains several putative transcription factor binding sites for transcription factors known to be expressed in Drosophila that might be useful targets for inhibition of the enzyme. The spPEP was first identified as a prolyl endoprotease by Darkoh et al., 2010. The enzyme is a unique serine protease of the S9A family by way of its substrate recognition of the gluten proteins, which are greater than 30 kD in size. At 51% maximum identity to known PEPs, homology modeling using SWISS-MODEL, the porcine brain PEP (PDB: 2XWD) was selected in the database of known PEP structures, resulting in a predicted tertiary structure 99% identical to the porcine brain PEP structure. A Km for the recombinant spPEP was determined to be 210 ± 53 µM for the zGly-Pro-pNA substrate in 0.025 M ethanolamine, pH 8.5, containing 0.1 M NaCl at 37 °C with a turnover rate of 172 ± 47 µM Gly-Pro-pNA/s/µM of enzyme.
Abstract: In heliothine moths, the male-specific olfactory system is activated by a few odor molecules, each of which is associated with an easily identifiable glomerulus in the primary olfactory center of the brain. This arrangement is linked to two well-defined behavioral responses, one ensuring attraction and mating behavior by carrying information about pheromones released by conspecific females and the other inhibition of attraction via signal information emitted from heterospecifics. The chance of comparing the characteristic properties of pheromone receptor proteins, male-specific sensory neurons and macroglomerular complex (MGC)-units in closely-related species is especially intriguing. Here, we review studies on the male-specific olfactory system of heliothine moths with particular emphasis on five closely related species, i.e., Heliothis virescens, Heliothis subflexa, Helicoverpa zea, Helicoverpa assulta and Helicoverpa armigera.
Abstract: Nestmate recognition is a hallmark of social insects. It is based on the match/mismatch of an identity signal carried by members of the society with that of the perceiving individual. While the behavioral response, amicable or aggressive, is very clear, the neural systems underlying recognition are not fully understood. Here we contrast two alternative hypotheses for the neural mechanisms that are responsible for the perception and information processing in recognition. We focus on recognition via chemical signals, as the common modality in social insects. The first, classical, hypothesis states that upon perception of recognition cues by the sensory system the information is passed as is to the antennal lobes and to higher brain centers where the information is deciphered and compared to a neural template. Match or mismatch information is then transferred to some behavior-generating centers where the appropriate response is elicited. An alternative hypothesis, that of “pre-filter mechanism”, posits that the decision as to whether to pass on the information to the central nervous system takes place in the peripheral sensory system. We suggest that, through sensory adaptation, only alien signals are passed on to the brain, specifically to an “aggressive-behavior-switching center”, where the response is generated if the signal is above a certain threshold.
Abstract: The codling moth, Cydia pomonella L. (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae), is a major pest of apple, pear and walnut orchards worldwide. This pest is often controlled using the biologically friendly control method known as pheromone-based mating disruption. Mating disruption likely exerts selection on the sexual communication system of codling moth, as male and female moths will persist in their attempt to meet and mate. Surprisingly little is known on the intraspecific variation of sexual communication in this species. We started an investigation to determine the level of individual variation in the female sex pheromone composition of this moth and whether variation among different populations might be correlated with use of mating disruption against those populations. By extracting pheromone glands of individual females from a laboratory population in Canada and from populations from apple orchards in Spain and Italy, we found significant between- and within-population variation. Comparing females that had been exposed to mating disruption, or not, revealed a significant difference in sex pheromone composition for two of the minor components. Overall, the intraspecific variation observed shows the potential for a shift in female sexual signal when selection pressure is high, as is the case with continuous use of mating disruption.
Abstract: We investigated intraspecific aggression in experimental nests (expN1, expN2) of the giant honey bee Apis dorsata in Chitwan (Nepal), focusing on interactions between surface bees and two other groups of bees approaching the nest: (1) homing “nestmate” foragers landing on the bee curtain remained unmolested by guards; and (2) supposed “non-nestmate” bees, which were identified by their erratic flight patterns in front of the nest, such as hovering or sideways scanning and splaying their legs from their body, and were promptly attacked by the surface bees after landing. These supposed non-nestmate bees only occurred immediately before and after migration swarms, which had arrived in close vicinity (and were most likely scouting for a nesting site). In total, 231 of the “nestmate” foragers (fb) and 102 approaches of such purported “non-nestmate” scouts (sc) were analysed (total observation time expN1: 5.43 min) regarding the evocation of shimmering waves (sh). During their landing the “nestmate” foragers provoked less shimmering waves (relnsh[fb] = 23/231 = 0.0996, relnsh[sc] = 75/102 = 0.7353; p <0.001, χ2-test) with shorter duration (Dsh[fb] = 197 ± 17 ms, Dsh[sc] = 488 ± 16 ms; p <0.001; t-test) than “non-nestmates”. Moreover, after having landed on the nest surface, the “non-nestmates” were attacked by the surface bees (expN1, expN2: observation time >18 min) quite similarly to the defensive response against predatory wasps. Hence, the surface members of settled colonies respond differently to individual giant honey bees approaching the nest, depending on whether erratic flight patterns are displayed or not.