Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 353–366 | Cite as

Terminal steps in pheromone biosynthesis byHeliothis virescens andH. zea

  • P. E. A. Teal
  • J. H. Tumlinson


In vivo application to the sex pheromone gland ofHeliothis Virescens andH. Zea of large quantities of alcohols normally present in small amounts resulted in the preferential conversion of the alcohols to the corresponding pheromonal aldehydes. Amounts of the minor component aldehydes were increased up to 15-fold by selectively applying large quantities of the alcohol precursors. Using this technique, we have inducedH. virescens to convert “bombykol,” the sex pheromone of the silkworm, to the corresponding aldehyde, “bombykal,” and have induced femaleH. zea to produce the same sex pheromone components used byH. virescens by applying tetradecanol and (Z)-9-tetradecenol to the surface of the gland. Further, treatedH. zea females were attractive toH. virescens males and caused males to attempt interspecific copulation repeatedly. We have also found that the enyzme involved in this conversion is dependent on the presence of molecular oxygen, indicating that a nonspecific alcohol oxidase is responsible for the terminal biosynthetic step in pheromone production by bothH. virescens andH. zea.

Key words

Sex pheromone biosynthesis Heliothis virescens H. zea Lepidoptera Noctuidae 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. E. A. Teal
    • 1
  • J. H. Tumlinson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental BiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Insect Attractants, Behavior and Basic Biology Research LaboratoryARS, USDAGainesville

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