Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Silkworms Find Mulberries Attractive

Date:
May 13, 2009
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Biologists have found the source of silkworms' attraction to mulberry leaves, their primary food source. A jasmine-scented chemical emitted in small quantities by the leaves triggers a single, highly tuned olfactory receptor in the silkworms' antennae, they show.

A new study published online on May 7th in Current Biology has found the source of silkworms' attraction to mulberry leaves, their primary food source. A jasmine-scented chemical emitted in small quantities by the leaves triggers a single, highly tuned olfactory receptor in the silkworms' antennae, they show.

The results are contrary to the notion that insects are generally attracted to their host plants through the recognition of a blend of volatile compounds by a combination of receptors, said Kazushige Touhara of The University of Tokyo. In addition to the new insights into insect olfaction, the findings may also have practical implications for those who raise silkworms for the production of silk, he added.

Bombyx mori, the domesticated silkmoth, no longer occurs naturally in the wild. As a consequence, they have reduced mouthparts, do not feed, cannot fly, and respond only to a sex pheromone for reproduction. Because of their commercial value and close association with humans, silkworms and their attraction to mulberry has long been of interest.

"In the mid-20th century, several volatiles emitted by mulberry leaves were reported to attract silkworms," Touhara said. "However, these previously identified odorants turned out to be weak attractants at best. None of the other abundant odorants in mulberry leaves attracted silkworms, either. Unexpectedly, we found that the potent attractant cis-jasmone was not an abundant volatile emitted from mulberry leaves at all; it is present only in small amounts."

Indeed, they found, the threshold amount of cis-jasmone needed to attract silkworms appears to be significantly lower than the amount of any attractant to food reported for other insect larvae, such as fruit flies and mosquitoes.

Earlier studies had been hindered by a limited understanding of olfaction at the molecular and genomic level, the researchers said. In the new study, Touhara's team applied new tools to the problem. After narrowing down the compounds emitted by mulberry leaves to the one that attracts silkworms, they went in search of the olfactory receptor genes responsible in the silkworms' genome.

They ultimately found 20 olfactory receptors that are active in the antennae of silkworm larvae. Of those, only one responds strongly to cis-jasmone. When that olfactory receptor is triggered to become active, the insects move toward the source of the smell.

Touhara said that cis-jasmone might be added to artificial diets fed to domesticated silkworms to increase the efficiency of their food intake. And, he added, if there are pest insects that are similarly attuned to single compounds, then chemicals designed to block the underlying receptors might serve as a new and rather safe form of pest control.

The researchers include Kana Tanaka, The University of Tokyo, Chiba, Japan; Yusuke Uda, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Japan; Yukiteru Ono, CBRC, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tokyo, Japan; Tatsuro Nakagawa, The University of Tokyo, Chiba, Japan; Makiko Suwa, CBRC, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tokyo, Japan; Ryohei Yamaoka, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Japan; and Kazushige Touhara, The University of Tokyo, Chiba, Japan.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Why Silkworms Find Mulberries Attractive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090507121951.htm>.
Cell Press. (2009, May 13). Why Silkworms Find Mulberries Attractive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090507121951.htm
Cell Press. "Why Silkworms Find Mulberries Attractive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090507121951.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Super Healthful Fruits and Vegetables: Which Are Best?

Super Healthful Fruits and Vegetables: Which Are Best?

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) We all know that it is important to eat our fruits and vegetables but do you know which ones are the best for you? Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) It took Houston firefighters more than an hour to free a puppy who got its head stuck in a tire. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Activists Urge NYC Mayor to Ban Carriage Horses

Activists Urge NYC Mayor to Ban Carriage Horses

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) A group of New Yorkers are putting Mayor Bill de Blasio on notice for what they say is reneging on his campaign promise to ban carriage horses. They rallied Tuesday near the mayor's Gracie Mansion home. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins