News from across RSC Publishing.
Scientists promote abstinence to control insect numbers
10 October 2006
Disrupting sexual signalling in the Queensland fruit fly, the most destructive horticultural pest in Australia, could save farmers millions, local chemists say.
The Queensland fruit fly: an expensive pest
© Brett D. Schwartz
Insect pheromones are made up of a complex mixture of compounds, with each species producing its own unique pheromone cocktail. So using pheromones for pest control is species-specific, and harmless to the general environment, said De Voss.
While the male Queensland fruit fly was known to produce a blend of six compounds, De Voss has now established the composition of the pheromones released by the female, a mixture of over 12 compounds. One component in particular, a spiroacetal, had an unusual branched configuration rarely seen in insects, said De Voss, who confirmed the novel structure by synthesising it in the lab.
Wittko Francke, an expert in pheromone-based pest management at the University of Hamburg, Germany, praised the discovery. However, 'questions remain concerning the biological significance of the compounds: do the synthetic spiroacetals attract the Queensland fruit fly?' he asked.
James Mitchell Crow
Y K Booth, B D Schwartz, M T Fletcher, L K Lambert, W Kitching and J J De Voss, Chem. Commun., 2006, 3975