The Science of Nature

, 106:56 | Cite as

Photoperiod-dependent release of suppression pheromone in the male lobster cockroach Nauphoeta cinerea

  • Rong KouEmail author
  • Shu-Chun Chen
  • Rou-Ling Yang
  • Chu-Chun Hsu
Original Paper


The complex agonistic repertoire between male lobster cockroaches (Nauphoeta cinerea) makes this species an excellent model for aggression studies. During the establishment of dominance hierarchies, 3-hydroxy-2-butanone (3H-2B) functions as a suppression pheromone, keeping the rivals in a submissive state. In the present study, we evaluated the release of 3H-2B by dominant individuals across four different time phases within the 24-h photoperiod, i.e., early scotophase (ES), late scotophase (LS), early photophase (EP), and late photophase (LP). For each time phase, we collected volatile pheromones during a 60-min first-encounter fight to measure the level of released 3H-2B. Subsequently, the amount of 3H-2B remaining in the sternal glands of dominant and subordinate individuals was measured and compared to socially naïve male controls. Release of 3H-2B was relatively high during ES or LP first-encounter fights, compared to LS or EP encounters. The attack duration and aggressive posture intensity in dominant males were positively correlated with the amount of 3H-2B release in all four phases. A similar statistical distribution was found between the amount of 3H-2B released by dominant males and the amount of 3H-2B in the sternal glands of naïve male sternal during LS, EP, and LP. However, during ES, the statistical distribution of 3H-2B released by the dominant was significantly greater than the distribution of 3H-2B content in socially naïve male sternal glands. The observed phase-dependence of 3H-2B release might be due to variations in 3H-2B biosynthesis or the scotophase-specific behavior of naïve males, wherein an aggressive posture is spontaneously adopted with concomitant 3H-2B release.


Aggressive posture First-encounter fight 3-Hydroxy-2-butanone Nauphoeta cinerea Sternal glands Time phase-dependent 



We warmly thank the Data Science Statistical Cooperation Center of Academia Sinica (ASCFII-108-117) for statistical analysis support.

Funding information

This work was financially supported by the National Science Council (NSC92- 2313-B-001-010) and Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Nauphoeta cinerea were used for experiments in this article. All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Cellular and Organismic BiologyAcademia SinicaTaipeiRepublic of China
  2. 2.Institute of Statistical ScienceAcademia SinicaTaipeiRepublic of China
  3. 3.National Palace MuseumTaipeiRepublic of China

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