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Identification of the Sex Pheromone of the Spherical Mealybug Nipaecoccus viridis


The spherical mealybug Nipaecoccus viridis is a pest of several major crops including soybeans, grapes and citrus varieties. Sessile virgin females of N. viridis release two volatiles, 2,2,3,4–tetramethyl–3–cyclopentene–1–methanol (γ–necrodol) and γ–necrodyl isobutyrate, on a circadian rhythm with peak at 17:00 (11 hr of photophase) as determined by automated, sequential solid phase micro extraction with gas chromatography−mass spectrometry analysis. The females increased the released amounts with age by about seven–fold from 5 to 6 d to 10–12 d of age. trans–3,4,5,5–Tetramethyl–2–cyclopentene–1–methanol (transα–necrodol) and transα–necrodyl acetate, found in essential oil of Spanish lavender, Lavandula luisieri, were rearranged to γ–necrodol and then used to synthesize γ–necrodyl isobutyrate. GC–MS and NMR data confirmed the identifications. In a petri dish bioassay, N. viridis males were significantly attracted to filter paper discs impregnated with γ–necrodyl isobutyrate but not to γ–necrodol or controls. A mixture of the two compounds was not more attractive than γ–necrodyl isobutyrate alone. Similar results were obtained with trapping flying adults, suggesting that the sex pheromone consists only of γ–necrodyl isobutyrate. This compound has not been reported previously in insects. Conversion of α–necrodol in lavender essential oil simplifies the synthesis of the sex pheromone and should allow its use in management of this cosmopolitan invasive pest.

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The authors would like to thank Dr. Jun Tabata of NARO (Ibaraki, Japan), Dr. Christian Chapuis of Firmenich (Switzerland) and Dr. Azucena González Coloma, of Instituto de Ciencias Agrarias (ICA) (Madrid, Spain), for generous sharing of their standards with us. Thanks to Dr. Lyuda Groysman, Israeli Ministry of Health, for HR–MS analyses; Dr. Tali Scherf, Weizmann Institute, for NMR analyses and Mrs. Reut Madar, Volcani Center, for technical assistance. Thanks to Dr. Ezra Dunkelblum and Dr. John A. Byers for helpful reviews of the manuscript. This research was funded by Chief Scientist, Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, grant #20–02–0071.

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Correspondence to Anat Levi-Zada.

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Levi-Zada, A., Steiner, S., Fefer, D. et al. Identification of the Sex Pheromone of the Spherical Mealybug Nipaecoccus viridis. J Chem Ecol 45, 455–463 (2019).

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  • Nipaecoccus viridis
  • Pheromone
  • Sequential SPME/GC–MS analysis (SSGA)
  • γ–Necrodyl isobutyrate
  • γ–Necrodol
  • trans–3,4,5,5–Tetramethyl–2–Cyclopentene-1-Methanol