Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 1111–1124 | Cite as

Genetic Basis to Divergence of Sex Pheromones in Two Closely Related Moths, Ostrinia scapulalis and O. zealis

  • Jun Tabata
  • Yukio Ishikawa
Research Article


Crossing experiments between two closely related moths, Ostrinia scapulalis and O. zealis, were conducted to gain insight into the genetic basis of the divergence of female sex pheromones. The sex pheromone of O. scapulalis comprises (E)-11- and (Z)-11-tetradecenyl acetates (E11 and Z11), and distinct genetic variation is found in the blend of components. This variation is largely controlled by a single autosomal locus with two alleles, A E(sca) and A Z(sca) . E-type (A E(sca) A E(sca) ) females produce a pheromone with amean E11:Z11 ratio of 99:1, whereas Z-type (A Z(sca) A Z(sca) ) and I-type (A E(sca) A Z(sca) ) females produce a pheromone with a mean of 3:97 and 64:36, respectively. O. zealis is distinctive in that it has a third pheromone component, (Z)-9-tetradecenyl acetate (Z9), in addition to E11 and Z11, and the typical blend ratio is 60:35:5 (Z9:E11:Z11). Our study revealed that Z9 production in O. zealis is mainly regulated by an autosomal recessive gene phr (zea) , which is suggested to be involved in the chain-shortening of a pheromone precursor fatty acid, and linked to A E(zea) , a gene corresponding to A E(sca) in O. scapulalis. A few mutations in a gene involved in pheromone production could explain the dramatic shift between a two-component pheromone communication system in O. scapulalis and a three-component system in O. zealis.

Key Words

Genetics sex pheromone reproductive isolation Ostrinia scapulalis Ostrinia zealis Ostrinia nubilalis communication divergence 



We thank Drs. S. Tatsuki and S. Hoshizaki for advice. Insect samples from Dr. S. Ohno (O. zealis larvae on thistles) are acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Applied Entomology, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life SciencesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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