, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 155–164 | Cite as

Behavioural and electrophysiological responses of the olive fruit fly, Bactrocera oleae (Rossi) (Diptera: Tephritidae), to male- and female-borne sex attractants

  • Angelo CanaleEmail author
  • Salvatore Giacinto Germinara
  • Adriano Carpita
  • Giovanni Benelli
  • Gabriella Bonsignori
  • Cesare Stefanini
  • Alfio Raspi
  • Giuseppe Rotundo
Research Paper


In the olive fruit fly, Bactrocera oleae, females attract males by producing 1,7-dioxaspiro[5.5]undecane (olean), the main component of the sex pheromone secreted by rectal glands. It has been recently demonstrated that males are able to produce (Z)-9-tricosene (muscalure) in rectal glands, a compound that selectively attracts females. In this study, a male grooming reaction that may transfer the male-borne compounds from rectal to urotergal glands was observed, suggesting that urotergal glands could be involved in B. oleae sexual communication. GC/MS, EAG, GC/EAD analyses and behavioural assays were carried out to compare the role of male rectal and urotergal glands during courtship. In both male glands, olean and muscalure amounts were age dependent. Extracts of rectal glands contained higher amounts of olean and/or muscalure than urotergal ones. Extracts of rectal and urotergal glands of males and females elicited EAG responses in both sexes. GC/EAD showed that female EAG response to male rectal extracts was mainly due to olean and muscalure. Synthetic compounds evoked EAG dose-dependent responses in both sexes, and the EAG response to muscalure was higher as compared to olean. Rectal and urotergal glands from old males were able to attract females, while urotergal glands from young males attracted only males. Overall, our results add knowledge to the mating system of B. oleae, giving first evidences on the electrophysiological activity of muscalure towards both sexes, as well as on the involvement of male urotergal glands in the chemical sexual communication of this pest.


Courtship behaviour 1,7-dioxaspiro[5.5]undecane Olfactory cues Rectal and urotergal glands (Z)-9-tricosene 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript, Helen Romito and Marco Colucci (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa) for proofreading the English, Francesco Lanzo (University of Pisa) for the creation of artworks, Giacomo Ragni (The BioRobotics Institute, Sant’Anna School of Advances Studies, Pisa) for technical support during high-speed video recordings, Giulia Fiore and Giulia Giunti (University of Pisa) for their kind assistance during manuscript preparation. This research was financially supported by M.I.U.R. (Ministry of Education, University and Research, Italy)—P.R.I.N. 2007.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (MPG 7380 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angelo Canale
    • 1
    Email author
  • Salvatore Giacinto Germinara
    • 2
  • Adriano Carpita
    • 3
  • Giovanni Benelli
    • 1
  • Gabriella Bonsignori
    • 4
  • Cesare Stefanini
    • 4
  • Alfio Raspi
    • 1
  • Giuseppe Rotundo
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Department of the Sciences of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversity of FoggiaFoggiaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry and Industrial ChemistryUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  4. 4.The BioRobotics InstituteSant’Anna School of Advanced StudiesPontederaItaly
  5. 5.Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Food SciencesUniversity of MoliseCampobassoItaly

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