First contact pheromone identified for a longhorned beetle (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in the subfamily Prioninae
Little is known of the reproductive behavior of longhorned beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in the subfamily Prioninae. Mallodon dasystomus (Say), the hardwood stump borer, is a widely distributed prionine that is native to the southern U.S. Here, we explored the chemically-mediated mating behavior of M dasystomus, and tested the hypothesis that males recognize females by a contact pheromone. In mating bioassays, all males tested attempted to mate with females only after contacting females with their antennae. Moreover, all males attempted to mate with solvent-washed dead females treated with as little as 0.15 ±0.03 female equivalents of conspecific cuticular extracts, confirming that compounds on the cuticle of females are essential for mate recognition. Cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of emales contained 13 compounds that were not present in profiles of males. Among the female-specific compounds, two co-dominant methylbranched alkanes, 2-methylhexacosane (2Me-C26) and 2- methyloctacosane (2Me-C28), accounted for 17% of the total hydrocarbons. Our strategy for identifYing the contact pheromone was to synthesize and test the bioactivity of female specific compounds, starting with the most abundant. In bioassays, males displayed mating behavior in response to synthetic 2Me-C26 and 2Me-C28 when tested individually. Furthermore, when these compounds were tested in combination, they elicited the full progression of mating behaviors, suggesting that 2Me-C26 and 2Me-C28 make up the contact pheromone. These findings are further evidence of the critical role of contact pheromones in mating systems of longhorned beetles.