The Long and the Short of Mate Attraction in a Psylloid: do Semiochemicals Mediate Mating in Aacanthocnema dobsoni Froggatt? Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Mating is preceded by a series of interdependent events that can be broadly categorized into searching and courtship. Long-range signals convey species- and sex-specific information during searching, while short-range signals provide information specific to individuals during courtship. Studies have shown that cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) can be used for mate recognition in addition to protecting insects from desiccation. In Psylloidea, four species rely on semiochemicals for long-range mate attraction. Psyllid mating research has focused on long-range mate attraction and has largely ignored the potential use of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) as mate recognition cues. This study investigated whether CHCs of Aacanthocnema dobsoni have semiochemical activity for long- and short-range communication prior to mating. Using a solid sampler for solvent-less injection of whole psyllids into coupled gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, we found quantitative, sex- and age-related differences in CHC profiles. Males had higher proportions of 2-MeC28, 11,15-diMeC29, and n-C33 alkanes, while females had higher proportions of 5-MeC27, 3-MeC27, 5,15-diMeC27, n-C29 and n-C30 alkanes. In males and females, 84 and 68 % of CHCs varied with age, respectively. Y-tube olfactometer bioassays provided no evidence that males or females responded to odors emanating from groups of conspecifics of the opposite sex. Tests of male and female psyllids for attraction to branchlets previously occupied by conspecifics showed no evidence of attraction to possible semiochemical residues. Our short-range chemoreception bioassay showed that males were as indifferent to freshly killed individuals of either sex with intact CHC profiles as to those treated with hexane (to remove CHCs). Aacanthocnema dobsoni utilizes substrate-borne vibrations (SBVs) for communication. Therefore, our results indicate that SBVs are probably more important than semiochemicals for long-range mate attraction. Furthermore, CHCs are unlikely to mediate short-range mate recognition or provide mate assessment cues.

publication date

  • 2016