Terminal steps in pheromone biosynthesis by Heliothis virescens and H. zea

P. E.A. Teal, J. H. Tumlinson

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In vivo application to the sex pheromone gland of Heliothis Virescens and H. Zea of large quantities of alcohols normally present in small amounts resulted in the preferential conversion of the alcohols to the corresponding pheromonal aldehydes. Amounts of the minor component aldehydes were increased up to 15-fold by selectively applying large quantities of the alcohol precursors. Using this technique, we have induced H. virescens to convert "bombykol," the sex pheromone of the silkworm, to the corresponding aldehyde, "bombykal," and have induced female H. zea to produce the same sex pheromone components used by H. virescens by applying tetradecanol and (Z)-9-tetradecenol to the surface of the gland. Further, treated H. zea females were attractive to H. virescens males and caused males to attempt interspecific copulation repeatedly. We have also found that the enyzme involved in this conversion is dependent on the presence of molecular oxygen, indicating that a nonspecific alcohol oxidase is responsible for the terminal biosynthetic step in pheromone production by both H. virescens and H. zea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-366
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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