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Nymphs of the Common Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius) produce anti-aphrodisiac defence against conspecific males

Harraca, Vincent LU ; Ryne, Camilla LU and Ignell, Rickard (2010) In BMC Biology 8.
Abstract
Background: Abdominal wounding by traumatic insemination and the lack of a long distance attraction pheromone set the scene for unusual sexual signalling systems. Male bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) mount any large, newly fed individual in an attempt to mate. Last instar nymphs overlap in size with mature females, which make them a potential target for interested males. However, nymphs lack the female's specific mating adaptations and may be severely injured by the abdominal wounding. We, therefore, hypothesized that nymphs emit chemical deterrents that act as an honest status signal, which prevents nymph sexual harassment and indirectly reduces energy costs for males. Results: Behavioural mating assays showed that males mount nymphs... (More)
Background: Abdominal wounding by traumatic insemination and the lack of a long distance attraction pheromone set the scene for unusual sexual signalling systems. Male bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) mount any large, newly fed individual in an attempt to mate. Last instar nymphs overlap in size with mature females, which make them a potential target for interested males. However, nymphs lack the female's specific mating adaptations and may be severely injured by the abdominal wounding. We, therefore, hypothesized that nymphs emit chemical deterrents that act as an honest status signal, which prevents nymph sexual harassment and indirectly reduces energy costs for males. Results: Behavioural mating assays showed that males mount nymphs significantly shorter time compared to females, although initial mounting preference was the same. In support of our hypothesis, nymphs experienced the same percentage of mating with sperm transfer as females if they were unable to emit (E)-2-hexenal, (E)-2-octenal 4-oxo-(E)-2-hexenal and 4-oxo-(E)-2-octenal, from their dorsal abdominal glands. We report that the aldehydes and 4-oxo-(E)-2-hexenal are detected by olfactory receptor neurons housed in smooth and grooved peg sensilla, respectively, on the adult antennae, at biologically relevant concentrations. Behavioural experiments showed that application of 4-oxo-(E)-2-hexenal or the two aldehydes at a nymph-emitted ratio, to a male/female pair during mounting initiation, decreased mating frequency to a rate comparable to that of a male/nymph pair. Conclusions: By combining behavioural and sensory studies, we show that the nymph-specific alarm pheromone plays an important role in intra-specific communication in the common bed bug. Alarm pheromones are commonly looked upon as a system in predator/prey communication, but here we show that alarm pheromones may be used as multipurpose signals such as decreasing the risk of nymphal mating by males. (Less)
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author
organization
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type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
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in
BMC Biology
volume
8
publisher
BioMed Central
external identifiers
  • wos:000283577800001
  • scopus:77956528441
ISSN
1741-7007
DOI
10.1186/1741-7007-8-121
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
4c0c8c3f-7973-4613-a993-9cd2c6678771 (old id 1720176)
date added to LUP
2010-12-06 10:36:31
date last changed
2018-05-29 10:18:47
@article{4c0c8c3f-7973-4613-a993-9cd2c6678771,
  abstract     = {Background: Abdominal wounding by traumatic insemination and the lack of a long distance attraction pheromone set the scene for unusual sexual signalling systems. Male bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) mount any large, newly fed individual in an attempt to mate. Last instar nymphs overlap in size with mature females, which make them a potential target for interested males. However, nymphs lack the female's specific mating adaptations and may be severely injured by the abdominal wounding. We, therefore, hypothesized that nymphs emit chemical deterrents that act as an honest status signal, which prevents nymph sexual harassment and indirectly reduces energy costs for males. Results: Behavioural mating assays showed that males mount nymphs significantly shorter time compared to females, although initial mounting preference was the same. In support of our hypothesis, nymphs experienced the same percentage of mating with sperm transfer as females if they were unable to emit (E)-2-hexenal, (E)-2-octenal 4-oxo-(E)-2-hexenal and 4-oxo-(E)-2-octenal, from their dorsal abdominal glands. We report that the aldehydes and 4-oxo-(E)-2-hexenal are detected by olfactory receptor neurons housed in smooth and grooved peg sensilla, respectively, on the adult antennae, at biologically relevant concentrations. Behavioural experiments showed that application of 4-oxo-(E)-2-hexenal or the two aldehydes at a nymph-emitted ratio, to a male/female pair during mounting initiation, decreased mating frequency to a rate comparable to that of a male/nymph pair. Conclusions: By combining behavioural and sensory studies, we show that the nymph-specific alarm pheromone plays an important role in intra-specific communication in the common bed bug. Alarm pheromones are commonly looked upon as a system in predator/prey communication, but here we show that alarm pheromones may be used as multipurpose signals such as decreasing the risk of nymphal mating by males.},
  author       = {Harraca, Vincent and Ryne, Camilla and Ignell, Rickard},
  issn         = {1741-7007},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {BioMed Central},
  series       = {BMC Biology},
  title        = {Nymphs of the Common Bed Bug (<i>Cimex lectularius</i>) produce anti-aphrodisiac defence against conspecific males},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1741-7007-8-121},
  volume       = {8},
  year         = {2010},
}