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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Bland, John
item Raina, Ashok
item Carpita, Adriano
item Dickens, Joseph - Dick

Submitted to: Sociobiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2007
Publication Date: 7/1/2007
Citation: Bland, J.M., Raina, A.K., Carpita, A., Dickens, J.C. 2007. Comparative analysis of 3,6,8-dodecatrien-1-ol from three subterranean termite species. Sociobiology 50(2):535-531.

Interpretive Summary: The Formosan subterranean termite, in addition to other subterranean termites native to the southern United States is a major economical problem. The understanding of termite behavior and the chemicals used by termites to elicit behaviors is necessary for researchers to devise new methods to control termites. This study identified and measured the amounts of a termite pheromone in three species of termites present in the southern United States. The pheromone was identified for the first time in the reproductive members of all three species as well as the workers of one species. The results of this work will give insight into how this pheromone is used by termites and could lead to the production of new methods for controlling termites by altering their behavior.

Technical Abstract: Amounts of (Z,Z,E)-dodeca-3,6,8-trien-1-ol (Z,Z,E-DTE) from the sternal glands of male and female alates and workers of Coptotermes formosanus, Reticulitermes flavipes, and R. virginicus were examined. This marks the first report of DTE from R. flavipes workers and all three species for alates. Quantification of DTE was performed on the trimethylsilyl (TMS) derivative, detected by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Alates from the three species contained similar amounts of DTE of about 200 pg/alate, with males and females having equal amounts in C. formosanus and R. flavipes, while R. virginicus males had less than 25% of that found in the female. Workers from the three species contained similar amounts of DTE of about 100 pg/worker. However, a C. formosanus colony with unusually large workers was found that had 400 pg/worker. Holding workers for a month in the lab did not cause a significant drop in the DTE levels. The TMS-derivative of the four synthetic isomers (Z,Z,E)-, (Z,Z,Z)-, (Z,E,Z)-, and (Z,E,E)-DTE were also separated by GC-MS and compared to the DTE from the three termite species. All termite samples of DTE were found to correspond to the (Z,Z,E)-DTE isomer. Trail-following assays with C. formosanus workers showed only the (Z,Z,E)-DTE isomer to be active at 10 pg/cm.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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