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Ant Trail Pheromone Biosynthesis Is Triggered by a Neuropeptide Hormone
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Author: Man-Yeon Choi et al.

by Man-Yeon Choi, Robert K. Vander Meer

Our understanding of insect chemical communication including pheromone identification, synthesis, and their role in behavior has advanced tremendously over the last half-century. However, endocrine regulation of pheromone biosynthesis has progressed slowly due to the complexity of direct and/or indirect hormonal activation of the biosynthetic cascades resulting in insect pheromones. Over 20 years ago, a neurohormone, pheromone biosynthesis activating neuropeptide (PBAN) was identified that stimulated sex pheromone biosynthesis in a lepidopteran moth. Since then, the physiological role, target site, and signal transduction of PBAN has become well understood for sex pheromone biosynthesis in moths. Despite that PBAN-like peptides (~200) have been identified from various insect Orders, their role in pheromone regulation had not expanded to the other insect groups except for Lepidoptera. Here, we report that trail pheromone biosynthesis in the Dufour's gland (DG) of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, is regulated by PBAN. RNAi knock down of PBAN gene (in subesophageal ganglia) or PBAN receptor gene (in DG) expression inhibited trail pheromone biosynthesis. Reduced trail pheromone was documented analytically and through a behavioral bioassay. Extension of PBAN's role in pheromone biosynthesis to a new target insect, mode of action, and behavioral function will renew research efforts on the involvement of PBAN in pheromone biosynthesis in Insecta.
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