Morganella morganii bacteria produces phenol as the sex pheromone of the New Zealand grass grub from tyrosine in the colleterial gland

D. G. Marshall, T. A. Jackson, C. R. Unelius, S. L. Wee, S. D. Young, R. J. Townsend, D. M. Suckling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Costelytra zealandica (Coleoptera: Scarabeidae) is a univoltine endemic species that has colonised and become a major pest of introduced clover and ryegrass pastures that form about half of the land area of New Zealand. Female beetles were previously shown to use phenol as their sex pheromone produced by symbiotic bacteria in the accessory or colleterial gland. In this study, production of phenol was confirmed from the female beetles, while bacteria were isolated from the gland and tested for attractiveness towards grass grub males in traps in the field. The phenol-producing bacterial taxon was identified by partial sequencing of the 16SrRNA gene, as Morganella morganii. We then tested the hypothesis that the phenol sex pheromone is biosynthesized from the amino acid tyrosine by the bacteria. This was shown to be correct, by addition of isotopically labelled tyrosine ((13)C) to the bacterial broth, followed by detection of the labelled phenol by SPME-GCMS. Elucidation of this pathway provides specific evidence how the phenol is produced as an insect sex pheromone by a mutualistic bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59
Number of pages1
JournalDie Naturwissenschaften
Volume103
Issue number7-8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016

Fingerprint

Morganella morganii
sex pheromone
sex pheromones
phenol
tyrosine
insect larvae
grass
grasses
bacterium
bacteria
Coleoptera
beetle
Costelytra zealandica
insect pheromones
endemic species
Lolium
pasture
indigenous species
traps
amino acid

Keywords

  • Bacteria
  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Mutualism
  • Phenol
  • Pheromone
  • Scarab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Morganella morganii bacteria produces phenol as the sex pheromone of the New Zealand grass grub from tyrosine in the colleterial gland. / Marshall, D. G.; Jackson, T. A.; Unelius, C. R.; Wee, S. L.; Young, S. D.; Townsend, R. J.; Suckling, D. M.

In: Die Naturwissenschaften, Vol. 103, No. 7-8, 01.08.2016, p. 59.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Marshall, D. G. ; Jackson, T. A. ; Unelius, C. R. ; Wee, S. L. ; Young, S. D. ; Townsend, R. J. ; Suckling, D. M. / Morganella morganii bacteria produces phenol as the sex pheromone of the New Zealand grass grub from tyrosine in the colleterial gland. In: Die Naturwissenschaften. 2016 ; Vol. 103, No. 7-8. pp. 59.
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