Metasternal Gland Volatiles and Sexual Communication in the Triatomine Bug, Rhodnius prolixus

Gina B. Pontes, Björn Bohman, C. Rikard Unelius, Marcelo G. Lorenzo

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Twelve compounds produced by the metasternal glands (MGs) of the triatomine bug Rhodnius prolixus were identified by solid phase microextraction (SPME) combined with coupled gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) using achiral and chiral columns. All substances were ketones or alcohols, and the same compound profile was found in the secretions produced by either sex. The most abundant compounds were 2-methyl-3-buten-2-ol, (2S)-pentanol, (3E)-2-methyl-3-penten-2-ol, and (2R/2S)-4-methyl-3-penten-2-ol. Emission of these compounds was detected more frequently from females than males, and females released them more frequently during the early hours of the scotophase, the period when sexual activity in this species is at its peak. These compounds were also detected in the headspace above mating pairs. Finally, the occlusion of the MG orifices of male or female bugs with paraffin resulted in a significant decrease in copulation frequency compared to sham-operated insects. Together, these data suggest that the MG secretions of R. prolixus may be involved in sexual communication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450-457
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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