Cuticular Hydrocarbons and Pheromones of Arthropods

  • Gary J. BlomquistEmail author
  • Claus Tittiger
  • Russell Jurenka
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


Cuticular hydrocarbons and pheromones of insects are often derived from fatty acids and terpenoid lipid components. This chapter describes the chemistry and biochemistry of insect hydrocarbons and pheromones and emphasizes recent work. Cuticular hydrocarbons consist of complex mixtures of straight chain, unsaturated, and methyl-branched components with 21 to 40+ carbon atoms. They function both to restrict water loss to prevent a lethal rate of desiccation and serve in chemical communication in many species. The major volatile insect pheromones consist of modified fatty acids and terpenoids. Many of the lepidopteran pheromones arise from fatty acid precursors, are modified with desaturases, and undergo limited chain shortening or elongation followed by modification of the carboxyl group to produce acetate esters, aldehydes, alcohols, and hydrocarbons. Many coleopteran pheromones are terpenoids, while still other insects use a variety of other compounds. The volatile, long range pheromones produced by insects are often produced in specific glands, and pheromone glands on the abdomen of many lepidopterans produce 10–21 carbon atom pheromone components. In some coleopterans, midgut tissue produces terpenoid pheromones. Recent work on hydrocarbon and pheromone production is taking advantage of the tools of molecular biology to better understand hydrocarbon and pheromone biosynthesis, and this information is summarized.


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Relevant Website

  1. Database of Pheromones and Semiochemicals. Scholar

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary J. Blomquist
    • 1
    Email author
  • Claus Tittiger
    • 1
  • Russell Jurenka
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyUniversity of NevadaRenoUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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