Bark Beetle Conversion of a Plant Compound to a Sex-Specific Inhibitor of Pheromone Attraction

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Science  06 May 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4597, pp. 624-626
DOI: 10.1126/science.220.4597.624


Both sexes of the bark beetle Dendroctonus brevicomis convert the (+) and () enantiomers of the tree terpene α-pinene to the corresponding enantiomers of trans-verbenol at about equal rates. ()-trans-Verbenol inhibited the response of females, but not of males, to a mixture of attractive pheromone components. Since the female initiates the attack on a pine tree, ()-trans-verbenol may play a role in reducing intraspecific competition for breeding areas.