Diel changes in the presence and physiological actions of octopamine in the female sex-pheromone glands of heliothine moths

Thomas A. Christensen, Herman K. Lehman, Peter E.A. Teal, Haruhiko Itagaki, James H. Tumlinson, John G. Hildebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Recent evidence suggests that the biogenic monoamine octopamine (OA) may be involved in the regulation of female sex-pheromone production in Lepidoptera. A radioenzymatic assay coupled with high performance liquid chromatography revealed the presence of OA in the innervated sex-pheromone gland of the corn earworm moth Helicoverpa (Heliothis) zea. Significantly more OA was found in glands just before the onset of scotophase (ca 320 fmol/gland), compared to levels at mid-photophase or just after the onset of scotophase (ca 160 fmol/gland). Exogenous OA had several actions on pheromone production. H. zea virgin females normally do not produce pheromone during the photophase, but highly significant levels of pheromone were induced by injection of OA into intact, day-2 photophase females. Importantly, this effect was absent in older females that showed increased levels of flight and oviposition activity. A second action of OA was revealed in isolated abdomen preparations from day-2 H. virescens females. Exogenous OA stimulated highly significant increases in pheromone production if abdomens were treated at the onset of scotophase, but not if they were treated in photophase. This critical period for OA action in these reduced preparations coincided with the time when peak levels of OA were present in the pheromone gland tissue. OA is therefore sufficient to induce pheromone production, but its actions in these short-lived insects depend on factor such as age and photoperiod. Diel fluctuations in OA levels in the pheromone gland, together with the observed phermonotropic actions of this amine, support the hypothesis that OA is involved in the regulation of pheromone production in these insects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)841-849
Number of pages9
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Diel changes in the presence and physiological actions of octopamine in the female sex-pheromone glands of heliothine moths'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this