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Identification of the Aggregation Pheromone of the Date Palm Root Borer Oryctes agamemnon

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Laboratory and field investigations aimed to characterize the chemical communication system of the date palm pest Oryctes agamemnon. Live males or extracts of male effluvia attracted conspecifics in an olfactometer, whereas female effluvia attracted only males. Volatile emissions from adults feeding on sugarcane were sampled and analysed by gas chromatography (GC) and GC/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Males emitted a blend of 1) ethyl 4-methyloctanoate, 2) 4-methyloctanoic acid, 3) 4-methyloctanyl acetate, and 4) 4-methyloctanol in variable ratio. Single sensillum recordings demonstrated that compounds 1, 2, and 3 are detected by specific olfactory receptor neurons. Olfactometric experiments showed that compounds 1 and 3 attract both sexes of O. agamemnon, but females are more attracted by compound 1 and males by compound 3. Compound 2 was more attractive for females, especially virgin ones. Field experiments confirmed that compound 1 and compound 2 attracted O. agamemnon of both sexes and showed synergy with palm odors. No clear activity of compound 3 was observed. A mix of compounds 1 and 2 with date palm core odor was significantly the most attractive, and captured more females than males. The male aggregation pheromone of O. agamemnon appears therefore to be based on a mixture in contrast to previously identified Oryctes pheromones. Our results provide the basis for developing mass trapping to control this pest.

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This work received financial support from The French-Tunisian University Cooperation Joint Committee (CMCU PHC Utique project no. 13G0927). We thank Josiane Beauhaire for synthesis of compound 2, Centina Pinier and Brigitte Frérot for additional GC/MS analysis, the Office of Development of Rjim Maâtoug that allowed the realization of field tests in their oasis, all the technicians from the Office, without whom the field work could not have been possible, Ann Porter Cloarec for English revision, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.

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Correspondence to Imen Saïd.

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Saïd, I., Hasni, N., Abdallah, Z. et al. Identification of the Aggregation Pheromone of the Date Palm Root Borer Oryctes agamemnon . J Chem Ecol 41, 446–457 (2015).

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