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J Chem Ecol. 2013 Jan;39(1):15-27. doi: 10.1007/s10886-012-0233-4. Epub 2012 Dec 30.

Chemical identification, emission pattern and function of male-specific pheromones released by a rarely swarming locust, Schistocerca americana.

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Department of Animal Physiology, Institute of Biology/Zoology, Martin-Luther-University, Domplatz 4, 06099, Halle, Germany.


Pheromones serve key functions in the biology of swarming locusts. However, research has focused largely on the mass-swarming desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria. We extended these investigations to the pheromonal profile of the rarely swarming American bird grasshopper, S. americana (Drury). The headspace of mature gregarious S. americana males contained three characteristic electroantennogram-active components: (Z)-3-nonen-1-ol, (Z)-2-octen-1-ol, and nonanal. These substances were accompanied by aromatics such as phenol that are also released by females and immatures. Male-specific pheromone components were released independently from epidermal gland cells, with the highest emission rate being for (Z)-3-nonen-1-ol from the abdomen and legs. The emission of the major compound, (Z)-3-nonen-1-ol, is stress-sensitive, and coincides with sexual maturity and crowding. The emission pattern strongly supports a role of (Z)-3-nonen-1-ol in the reproductive biology of S. americana. The pheromone is involved in courtship-inhibition and is used as mate assessment pheromone in cryptic female choice. In double mating experiments, females choose sperm of males with high (Z)-3-nonen-1-ol emission. Furthermore the pheromone accelerated maturation of immature adults and supports synchronization of sexual development.

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