Spider Pheromones – a Structural Perspective
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Spiders use pheromones for sexual communication, as do other animals such as insects. Nevertheless, knowledge about their chemical structure, function, and biosynthesis is only now being unraveled. Many studies have shown the existence of spider pheromones, but the responsible compounds have been elucidated in only a few cases. This review focuses on a structural approach because we need to know the involved chemistry if we are to understand fully the function of a pheromonal communication system. Pheromones from members of the spider families Pholcidae, Araneidae, Linyphiidae, Agenelidae, and Ctenidae are currently being identified and will be discussed in this review. Some of these compounds belong to compound classes not known from other arthropod pheromones, such as citric acid derivatives or acylated amino acids, whereas others originate from more common fatty acid metabolism. Their putative biosynthesis, their function, and the identification methods used will be discussed. Furthermore, other semiochemicals and the chemistry of apolar surface lipids that potentially might be used by spiders for communication are described briefly.
KeywordsAmino acids Citric acid Lipids Silk Fatty acid biosynthesis
I thank Prof. Gustavo Hormiga, Washington, USA, for his advice on spider phylogeny and the suggestion for the source of Fig. 1.
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