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See detailThe composition of cuticular compounds indicates body parts, sex and age in the model butterfly Bicyclus anynana (Lepidoptera)
Heuskin, Stéphanie ULg; Vanderplanck, Maryse; Bacquet, Paul et al

in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (2014), 2:37

Chemical communication in insects’ sexual interactions is well-known to involve olfaction of volatile compounds called sex pheromones. In theory, sexual chemical communication may also involve chemicals ... [more ▼]

Chemical communication in insects’ sexual interactions is well-known to involve olfaction of volatile compounds called sex pheromones. In theory, sexual chemical communication may also involve chemicals with low or no volatility exchanged during precopulatory gustatory contacts. Yet, knowledge on this latter type of chemicals is so far mostly restricted to the Drosophila fly model. Here we provide the most comprehensive characterization to date of the cuticular chemical profile, including both volatile and non-volatile compounds, of a model butterfly, Bicyclus anynana. First, we characterized the body distribution of 103 cuticular lipids, mostly alkanes and methyl-branched alkanes, by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Second, we developed a multivariate statistical approach to cope with such complex chemical profiles and showed that variation in the presence or abundance of a subset of the cuticular lipids indicated body parts, and traits involved in B. anynana mate choice, namely sex and age. Third, we identified the chemical structure of the 20 most indicative compounds, which were on average more abundant (1346.4 ± 1994.6 ng; mean ± SD) than other, likely less indicative, compounds (225.9 ± 507.2 ng; mean ± SD). Fourth, we showed that wings and legs displayed most of the chemical information found on the entire body of the butterflies. Fifth, we showed that non-random gustatory contacts occurred between specific male and female body parts during courtship. The body parts mostly touched by the conspecific displayed the largest between-sex differentiation in cuticular composition. Altogether, the large diversity of cuticular lipids in B. anynana, which exceeds the one of Drosophila flies, and its non-random distribution and evaluation across individuals, together suggest that gustatory information is likely exchanged during sexual interactions in Lepidoptera. [less ▲]

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See detailGeographic and genetic variation of olfactory communication in butterflies: the male sex pheromone of Bicyclus butterfly species
Bacquet, Paul; Brattström, O.; Wang, H. L. et al

in Abstract book (2010, December 17)

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See detailVariabilité et évolution des phéromones du genre de papillons Bicyclus (Nymphalidae, Satyrinae), et implication dans sa diversification.
Bacquet, Paul; Brattström, O.; Brakefield, P. M. et al

in VII Conférence Internationale Francophone d'Entomologie (2010, July)

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See detailPheromone variability and evolution in the butterfly genus Bicyclus, and implication in its diversification
Bacquet, Paul; Brattström, O.; Brakefield, P. M. et al

Poster (2010, May 05)

The evolution of olfactive communication in generating reproductive isolation among species remains poorly understood (Smadja & Butlin 2009). In Lepidoptera, studies have mainly focused on long-distance ... [more ▼]

The evolution of olfactive communication in generating reproductive isolation among species remains poorly understood (Smadja & Butlin 2009). In Lepidoptera, studies have mainly focused on long-distance pheromones produced by moths. Moth sex pheromones have been shown to display inter-population variation (e.g. Tòth et al. 1992, McElfresh & Millar 2008 and ref. within, Groot et al. 2009) and to be involved in interspecific isolation (e.g. Löfstedt et al. 1991, Groot et al. 2006). In butterflies, the few existing studies on sex pheromones have mainly focused on the identification of the male specific compounds and the demonstration of their behavioural activity in courtship (e.g. Grula et al. 1980, Nieberding et al. 2008, Yildizhan et al. 2009), but have failed so far to highlight a role in reproductive isolation (Friberg et al. 2008). In the species-rich Bicyclus genus Kirby, 1871 (Nymphalidae, Satyrinae) the structures producing the pheromones, i.e. the androconia, are key characters to discriminate among species (Condamin 1973). In B. anynana (Butler, 1879), the male sex pheromone (MSP) has been shown to play a role in mate choice (Costanzo & Monteiro 2007, Nieberding et al. 2008), to be heritable, and particular ratios of the pheromone components are under strong sexual selection (Nieberding et al, unpubl. data). Therefore, we expect that pheromone evolution is responsible for reproductive isolation and diversification in this butterfly group. In this framework, our research project aims at understanding the evolution of MSP at the interspecific level across the Bicyclus genus and specifically at testing their potential role in the speciation process. Potential MSP of several species across the Bicyclus genus have been identified by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Observed differences in pheromone composition between species are compared in a phylogenetic framework to the molecular tree of the species (following Oliver et al. 2009). We expect the evolutionary rate of MSP to be unlinked to the molecular tree if MSP are under sexual selection across the genus (i.e. saltational evolution following Symonds & Elgar 2004, Shirangi et al. 2009). Moreover, if MSP generated reproductive isolation between species in a “reinforcement” process, we expect higher differences of MSP composition between sympatric species than between allopatric species and an increase of this pattern for younger species compared to older species (Lukhtanov et al. 2006). [less ▲]

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