Journal of chemical ecology

Accumulation of phenylpropanoid and sesquiterpenoid volatiles in male rectal pheromonal glands of the guava fruit fly, Bactrocera correcta.

PMID 20967492


The guava fruit fly, Bactrocera correcta, is widely distributed in Thailand and other surrounding Southeast Asian countries, and, like the closely related sympatric species, the oriental fruit fly, B. dorsalis, infests various fruits, including guava, peach, and mango. Males of both B. correcta and B. dorsalis are strongly attracted to, and compulsively feed on, methyl eugenol (ME). Bactrocera dorsalis males fed on ME sequester its metabolite phenylpropanoids, (E)-coniferyl alcohol and 2-allyl-4,5-dimethoxyphenol, in the rectal pheromone gland. In contrast, B. correcta males fed on ME sequester two different metabolites, (Z)-coniferyl alcohol (ZCF) and (Z)-3,4-dimethoxycinnamyl alcohol (DMC), in the rectal gland. Examination of the temporal changes of ME metabolites in B. correcta male rectal glands revealed that the total of ZCF and DMC was as high as 100 μg/male at 24 hr after ME feeding. ZCF and DMC were detected in a large proportion of wild B. correcta males captured at various sites in Thailand. Since B. correcta and B. dorsalis are sympatric species in Thailand, these two different subsets of rectal phenylpropanoids could play a role to avoid interbreeding between the species. Further survey of wild flies in Thailand revealed that a large proportion of males of B. correcta store large quantities (over 250 μg/gland) of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, including β-caryophyllene, α-humulene, and alloaromadendrene in the rectal gland in addition to, or instead of, ZCF and DMC. Laboratory-reared males also sequestered β-caryophyllene and α-humulene, along with ZCF and DMC, when the sesquiterpenes were artificially supplied together with ME. A field test demonstrated that a mixture (1:1) of β-caryophyllene and α-humulene attracted male B. correcta, albeit in smaller numbers than in traps baited with ME. The sequestration of sesquiterpenes, in addition to the different ME metabolites in the pheromone gland in B. correcta males, contrasts with the situation in B. dorsalis males, suggesting a potential role in intra and/or inter-specific interactions between these sympatric species.