Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 961–976

Cuticular Hydrocarbons of Drosophila birchii and D. serrata: Identification and Role in Mate Choice in D. serrata


    • USDA-ARS
  • Larry L. Jackson
    • Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryMontana State University
  • Heidi Banse
    • Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryMontana State University
  • Mark W. Blows
    • Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of Queensland

DOI: 10.1023/A:1022992002239

Cite this article as:
Howard, R.W., Jackson, L.L., Banse, H. et al. J Chem Ecol (2003) 29: 961. doi:10.1023/A:1022992002239


The cuticular hydrocarbon compositions of two sympatric species of Australian Drosophila in the montium subgroup of the melanogaster group that use cuticular hydrocarbons in mate recognition have been characterized. Drosophila birchii has 34 components in greater than trace amounts, with a carbon number range of C20 to C33. Drosophila serrata has 21 components above trace level and a carbon number range of C24 to C31. These two species share eight hydrocarbon components, with all but two of them being monoenes. For both species, the (Z)-9-monoenes are the predominant positional isomer. The hydrocarbons of D. birchii are n-alkanes, n-alkenes (Z)-5-, (Z)-7-, (Z)-9-, and (Z)-11-), low to trace levels of homologous (Z,Z)-7,11- and (Z,Z)-9,13-dienes; and trace amounts of (Z,Z)-5,9-C25:2, a major component of D. serrata. Only one methyl branched hydrocarbon was detected (2-methyl C28), and it occurred at very low levels. The hydrocarbons of D. serrata are dominated by a homologous series of (Z,Z)-5,9-dienes, and notably, are characterized by the apparent absence of n-alkanes. Homologous series of (Z)-5-, (Z)-7-, and (Z)-9-alkenes are also present in D. serrata as well as 2-methyl alkanes. Drosophila serrata females display strong directional mate choice based on male cuticular hydrocarbons and prefer D. serrata males with higher relative abundances of the 2-methyl alkanes, but lower relative abundances of (Z,Z)-5,9-C24:2 and (Z)-9-C25:1.

Hydrocarbonspheromonessexual selectionsibling speciesmass spectradienesmonoenes2-methylalkanes
Download to read the full article text

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003