ENTOMOLOGY

The perfumed eggs of flies

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Science  01 Mar 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6430, pp. 942-943
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6430.942-c

Insect eggs are vulnerable to desiccation, predation, and cannibalism. Fly eggs consist of several layers that are usually covered with a top coat of wax. Narasimha et al. discovered that this wax layer effectively masks the nutritionally desirable contents of fruit fly eggs from cannibalism by already hatched larvae. The wax contains the maternal pheromone 7,11-nonacosadiene. This fly “perfume” also turns out to be essential for preventing egg contents from leaking out and is just as good at waterproofing and camouflaging yeast cells from predatory fly larvae. Mosquito eggs have a layered structure similar to eggs of fruit flies. Isoe et al. have identified an essential constituent called eggshell organizing factor 1 (EOF1) that promotes melanization of mosquito eggs and safeguards embryo development. A lack of EOF1 leads to poor egg pigmentation and a failure to survive because water can enter the eggs.

Scanning electron micrograph of the ultrastructure of the eggshell surface of Aedes aegypti eggs

CREDIT J. ISOE ET AL., PLOS BIOL. 17, E3000068, 2019

PLOS Biol. 17, e2006012, e3000068 (2019).

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