Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2011
Publication Date: 4/28/2011
Citation: Rooney, A.P. 2011. Pheromone emergencies and drifting moth genomes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 18(108):8069-8070.
Technical Abstract: Female moths utilize sex pheromones to attract mates across a potentially long geographic distance. The biochemical basis of how moth female sex pheromones are synthesized has been elucidated in a number of species, and a particularly large amount of effort has been expended on the agricultural pest Ostrinia nubilalis, which is commonly known as the European corn borer (ECB). The females of this species and its close relative, the Asian corn borer (ACB), Ostrinia furnacalis, utilize a blend of 14-carbon acetate E/Z isomers. One of the key enzymatic steps in the biosynthesis of these blends is desaturation catalyzed by acyl-CoA desaturases that exhbit unique substrate specificities as well as regio- and stereo-selectivities (Roelofs et al., 2002). The enzymes that catalyze the biosynthesis of the ECB and ACB blends belong to a group known as the Z/E D11 desaturases (Rooney, 2009). Given their importance to corn borer reproductive biology, scientists from a broad array of disciplines are interested in understanding how these enzymes evolved and how they contribute to corn borer speciation. In this issue of of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Fujii et al. (2011) show that a “cryptic” gene catalyzes the female sex pheromone of a primitive member of the genus Ostrinia, the Far-Eastern knotweed borer (FKB), Ostrinia latipennis.