Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cockroach hookup signal could benefit endangered woodpecker

Date:
December 19, 2011
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
A discovery of the unique chemical composition of a cockroach signal -- a "Let's hook up" sex pheromone emitted by certain female wood cockroaches to entice potential mates -- could have far-ranging benefits, including improved conservation of an endangered woodpecker.

Researchers attracted and trapped wood cockroaches with a synthetic version of a newly characterized sex pheromone.
Credit: Image courtesy of North Carolina State University

A North Carolina State University discovery of the unique chemical composition of a cockroach signal -- a "Let's hook up" sex pheromone emitted by certain female wood cockroaches to entice potential mates -- could have far-ranging benefits, including improved conservation of an endangered woodpecker.

Related Articles


Dr. Coby Schal, Blanton J. Whitmire Professor of Entomology at NC State and the corresponding author of a paper describing the discovery, says that the study, published the week of Dec. 19 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, advances the knowledge of fundamental biological and chemical properties of an important North American cockroach genus that serves as both a beneficial forest insect and as a pest in homes.

Parcoblatta lata is the largest and most abundant of the wood cockroaches. It also serves as the favored meal of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Schal says that the study, which characterized the pheromone and produced a synthetic version of it, could help scientists determine whether certain habitats have enough woodpecker food. If the synthetic pheromone attracts large numbers of adult male P. lata cockroaches, Schal says, then the roach supply is probably ample. Provided that other aspects of the habitat are also right, the area could be a suitable home for red-cockaded woodpeckers.

Researchers attracted and trapped wood cockroaches with a synthetic version of a newly characterized sex pheromone.

Besides feeding woodpeckers, Parcoblatta adult males are excellent flyers that occasionally infest houses after being attracted to porch lights. The pheromone could help control wood roaches near homes, Schal says.

Schal and colleagues from New York and California combined a number of study methods to understand P. lata's aphrodisiac. The team used gas chromatography, in which compounds are separated in a controllable oven, to separate it from other chemical compounds that the roaches produce. By connecting this instrument to the antenna of P. lata and monitoring its electrical activity, the researchers zeroed in on the biologically active compound. They then used nuclear magnetic resonance to determine the pheromone's chemical structure. Finally, they made a synthetic version of the compound to see if it would attract adult male P. lata.

It did. Perhaps surprisingly, it attracted a few other Parcoblatta species, as well. One common wood roach, however, was conspicuously absent: Parcoblatta pennsylvanica, which ignored the synthetic pheromone. As its name implies, P. pennsylvanica has populations into the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states.

"Parcoblatta cockroaches are endemic to North America; unlike pest cockroaches, they were not introduced from other places," Schal says. "The compound we identified is a major component of a multi-component sex pheromone blend. So learning that the chemical we identify in this paper attracts some Parcoblatta species but not others tells us something about their evolutionary history."

The roaches that respond to this pheromone probably make up a group of closely related species, Schal says, which together diverged from other Parcoblatta species that either can't smell this chemical or are attracted to it only when it's combined with other, yet to be identified, pheromone components.

Dorit Eliyahu, Satoshi Nojima and Cesar Gemeno, all former members of Schal's lab, and Richard Santangelo, an NC State research specialist, co-authored the paper. Researchers from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the University of California-Davis also co-authored the study. The research was supported by the Blanton J. Whitmire Endowment at NC State.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dorit Eliyahu, Satoshi Nojima, Richard G. Santangelo, Shannon Carpenter, Francis X. Webster, David J. Kiemle, Cesar Gemeno, Walter S. Leal, and Coby Schal. An unusual macrocyclic lactone sex pheromone of Parcoblatta lata, a primary food source of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. PNAS, Dec 19, 2011 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1111748109

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Cockroach hookup signal could benefit endangered woodpecker." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111219152516.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2011, December 19). Cockroach hookup signal could benefit endangered woodpecker. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111219152516.htm
North Carolina State University. "Cockroach hookup signal could benefit endangered woodpecker." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111219152516.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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