Flight Tunnel Response of Male European Corn Borer Moths to Cross-Specific Mixtures of European and Asian Corn Borer Sex Pheromones: Evidence Supporting a Critical Stage in Evolution of a New Communication System
Previous flight tunnel studies showed that 3–5 % of male European corn borer (ECB) moths, Ostrinia nubilalis, could fly upwind and make contact with sources releasing the sex pheromone of the closely related Asian corn borer (ACB), Ostrina furnacalis, [2:1 (Z)-12-tetradecenyl acetate (Z12-14:OAc) : (E)-12-teradecenyl acetate (E12-14:OAc)] and that 2–4 % of ACB males could similarly fly upwind to the sex pheromone blends of the ECB Z- [97:3 (Z)-tetradecenyl acetate (Z11-14:OAc) : (E)-tetradecenyl acetate (E11-14:Ac)] and E-strains (1:99 Z/E11-14:OAc) pheromones. The results supported the hypothesis that the evolution of the ACB pheromone system from an ECB-like ancestor included a stage in which males could be attracted to the unusual females emitting Z12- and E12-14:OAc while retaining their responsiveness to the ancestral pheromone blend of Z11- and E11-14:OAc. Here, we showed further that ECB E-strain males exhibited upwind oriented flight and source contacts to sources containing all combinations of ECB and ACB components. Maximal response levels were observed with the E-strain 99:1 E11/Z11-14:OAc blend, and high response levels also were observed with two other blends containing E11-14:OAc as the major component (E11:E12 and E11:Z12). Upwind flight and source contact also occurred at lower levels with the remaining blend combinations in which Z11-, E12-, or Z12-14:OAc was the major component. Our current results support the hypothesis concerning the evolution of ACB from an ECB-like ancester by showing that males were able to respond to females producing either the 12–14:Ac isomers, 11–14:Ac isomers, or even mixtures of all four components
Flight tunnel Mating behavior Pheromone response specificity Sex pheromone
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We thank Kathy Poole and Paula Fox for help in maintaining the moth colony. Nathan Martin and Kevin Moore were undergraduates at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY participating in a Summer Scholars Program supported by funding from the David and Brenda Rickey Foundation. We also thank Tom Baker and Kevin Wanner for valuable comments on the manuscript, and Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris for advice on the statistical tests. The research was supported by the USDA AFRI program, #2009-0987-01.
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