Courtship pheromones in parasitic wasps: comparison of bioactive and inactive hydrocarbon profiles by multivariate statistical methods

S. Steiner, R. Mumm, J. Ruther

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Cuticular hydrocarbons play a significant role in the regulation of cuticular permeability and also in the chemical communication of insects. In the parasitoid Lariophagus distinguendus (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae), male courtship behavior is mediated by a female-produced sex pheromone. Previous studies have shown that the chemicals involved are already present in the pupal stage of both males and females. However, pheromonal activity in males decreases shortly after emergence. This pheromonal deactivation occurs only in living males, suggesting an active process rather than simple evaporation of bioactive compounds. Here, we present evidence that the sex pheromone of L. distinguendus is composed of a series of cuticular hydrocarbons. Filter paper disks treated with nonpolar fractions of cuticular extracts of freshly emerged males and females, 72-hr-old females, and yellowish pupae caused arrestment and stimulated key elements of courtship behavior in males, whereas fractions of 72-hr-old males did not. Sixty-four hydrocarbons with chain length between C25 and C37 were identified in the fractions by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Methyl-branched alkanes with one to four methyl groups were major components, along with traces of n-alkanes and monoalkenes. Principal component analysis, based on the relative amounts of the compounds, revealed that cuticular hydrocarbon composition differed among all five groups. By using partial least squares-discriminant analysis, we determined a series of components that differentiate bioactive and bioinactive hydrocarbon profiles, and may be responsible for pheromonal activity of hydrocarbon fractions in L. distinguendus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-838
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • female sex-pheromone
  • cuticular hydrocarbons
  • lariophagus-distinguendus
  • hymenoptera
  • pteromalidae
  • lipids
  • bethylidae
  • coleoptera
  • vespidae
  • behavior

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