, Volume 91, Issue 7, pp 324–328 | Cite as

Coordinated gene expression for pheromone biosynthesis in the pine engraver beetle, Ips pini (Coleoptera: Scolytidae)

  • Christopher I. Keeling
  • Gary J. Blomquist
  • Claus Tittiger
Short Communication


In several pine bark beetle species, phloem feeding induces aggregation pheromone production to coordinate a mass attack on the host tree. Male pine engraver beetles, Ips pini (Say) (Coleoptera: Scolytidae), produce the monoterpenoid pheromone component ipsdienol de novo via the mevalonate pathway in the anterior midgut upon feeding. To understand how pheromone production is regulated in this tissue, we used quantitative real-time PCR to examine feeding-induced changes in gene expression of seven mevalonate pathway genes: acetoacetyl-coenzyme A thiolase, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A synthase, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase, mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase, isopentenyl-diphosphate isomerase, geranyl-diphosphate synthase (GPPS), and farnesyl-diphosphate synthase (FPPS). In males, expression of all these genes significantly increased upon feeding. In females, the expression of the early mevalonate pathway genes (up to and including the isomerase) increased significantly, but the expression of the later genes (GPPS and FPPS) was unaffected or decreased upon feeding. Thus, feeding coordinately regulates expression of the mevalonate pathway genes necessary for pheromone biosynthesis in male, but not female, midguts. Furthermore, basal mRNA levels were 5- to 41-fold more abundant in male midguts compared to female midguts. This is the first report of coordinated regulation of mevalonate pathway genes in an invertebrate model consistent with their sex-specific role in de novo pheromone biosynthesis.


Bark Beetle Mevalonate Pathway Pheromone Production Ipsdienol Monoterpenoid 
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We thank J.C. Bearfield and A. Gilg-Young for sharing unpublished sequence data and designing real-time primers for GPPS, J.C. Bearfield and G.M. Hall for assistance with collecting the beetles, J. Rowe and C. Osborne at the Nevada Genomics Center for assistance with the real-time PCR instrument, and E. Plettner for comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. This work was supported by a Canadian NSERC postdoctoral fellowship to C.I.K., the USDA (2001-35302-11035), the NSF (IBN 0316370), the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station (publication no. 03031391), the Nevada Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (P20 RR 16464), and represents research coordinated in part through USDA-CSREES Multistate Research Project W-189. This research was conducted in accordance with the current laws of the USA.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher I. Keeling
    • 1
  • Gary J. Blomquist
    • 1
  • Claus Tittiger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of Nevada RenoRenoUSA

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