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Allelic variation in a fatty-acyl reductase gene causes divergence in moth sex pheromones

Lassance, Jean-Marc LU ; Groot, Astrid T; Liénard, Marjorie LU ; Antony, Binu LU ; Borgwardt, Christin; Andersson, Fredrik; Hedenström, Erik; Heckel, David G and Löfstedt, Christer LU (2010) In Nature 466(7305). p.486-489
Abstract
Pheromone-based behaviours are crucial in animals from insects to mammals, and reproductive isolation is often based on pheromone differences. However, the genetic mechanisms by which pheromone signals change during the evolution of new species are largely unknown. In the sexual communication system of moths (Insecta: Lepidoptera), females emit a species-specific pheromone blend that attracts males over long distances. The European corn borer, [i)Ostrinia nubilalis[/i], consists of two sex pheromone races, Z and E, that use different ratios of the cis and trans isomers of acetate pheromone components. This subtle difference leads to strong reproductive isolation in the field between the two races, which could represent a... (More)
Pheromone-based behaviours are crucial in animals from insects to mammals, and reproductive isolation is often based on pheromone differences. However, the genetic mechanisms by which pheromone signals change during the evolution of new species are largely unknown. In the sexual communication system of moths (Insecta: Lepidoptera), females emit a species-specific pheromone blend that attracts males over long distances. The European corn borer, [i)Ostrinia nubilalis[/i], consists of two sex pheromone races, Z and E, that use different ratios of the cis and trans isomers of acetate pheromone components. This subtle difference leads to strong reproductive isolation in the field between the two races, which could represent a first step in speciation. Female sex pheromone production and male behavioural response are under the control of different major genes, but the identity of these genes is unknown. Here we show that allelic variation in a fatty-acyl reductase gene essential for pheromone biosynthesis accounts for the phenotypic variation in female pheromone production, leading to race-specific signals. Both the cis and trans isomers of the pheromone precursors are produced by both races, but the precursors are differentially reduced to yield opposite ratios in the final pheromone blend as a result of the substrate specificity of the enzymes encoded by the Z and E alleles. This is the first functional characterization of a gene contributing to intraspecific behavioural reproductive isolation in moths, highlighting the importance of evolutionary diversification in a lepidopteran-specific family of reductases. Accumulation of substitutions in the coding region of a single biosynthetic enzyme can produce pheromone differences resulting in reproductive isolation, with speciation as a potential end result. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Nature
volume
466
issue
7305
pages
486 - 489
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • wos:000280141200035
  • scopus:77954951585
ISSN
0028-0836
DOI
10.1038/nature09058
project
The insect pheromone brewery
Evolutionary mechanisms of pheromone divergence in Lepidoptera
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
bbe3c8c6-f898-452b-8afb-181bfb294d24 (old id 1645389)
date added to LUP
2010-09-03 12:18:47
date last changed
2018-05-29 12:08:25
@article{bbe3c8c6-f898-452b-8afb-181bfb294d24,
  abstract     = {Pheromone-based behaviours are crucial in animals from insects to mammals, and reproductive isolation is often based on pheromone differences. However, the genetic mechanisms by which pheromone signals change during the evolution of new species are largely unknown. In the sexual communication system of moths (Insecta: Lepidoptera), females emit a species-specific pheromone blend that attracts males over long distances. The European corn borer, [i)Ostrinia nubilalis[/i], consists of two sex pheromone races, <i>Z</i> and <i>E</i>, that use different ratios of the cis and trans isomers of acetate pheromone components. This subtle difference leads to strong reproductive isolation in the field between the two races, which could represent a first step in speciation. Female sex pheromone production and male behavioural response are under the control of different major genes, but the identity of these genes is unknown. Here we show that allelic variation in a fatty-acyl reductase gene essential for pheromone biosynthesis accounts for the phenotypic variation in female pheromone production, leading to race-specific signals. Both the cis and trans isomers of the pheromone precursors are produced by both races, but the precursors are differentially reduced to yield opposite ratios in the final pheromone blend as a result of the substrate specificity of the enzymes encoded by the Z and E alleles. This is the first functional characterization of a gene contributing to intraspecific behavioural reproductive isolation in moths, highlighting the importance of evolutionary diversification in a lepidopteran-specific family of reductases. Accumulation of substitutions in the coding region of a single biosynthetic enzyme can produce pheromone differences resulting in reproductive isolation, with speciation as a potential end result.},
  author       = {Lassance, Jean-Marc and Groot, Astrid T and Liénard, Marjorie and Antony, Binu and Borgwardt, Christin and Andersson, Fredrik and Hedenström, Erik and Heckel, David G and Löfstedt, Christer},
  issn         = {0028-0836},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {7305},
  pages        = {486--489},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Nature},
  title        = {Allelic variation in a fatty-acyl reductase gene causes divergence in moth sex pheromones},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature09058},
  volume       = {466},
  year         = {2010},
}