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New insights into the cuticular chemistry of the Q-fly

The cuticular layer of insects' exoskeleton contains a range of compounds that serve important biological functions, including protection against desiccation, injury and infection. Interestingly, the cuticular compounds can also play a role in chemical communication such as species recognition, mimicry and as pheromones.

Recently, Fruit Fly ITTC funded Research Fellow Dr Soo Jean Park has been investigating the cuticular chemistry of the Queensland fruit fly (Q-fly). Together with her coauthor Dr Vivian Mendez, Dr Park explained that while rectal gland and volatile emission chemistry of this species have been documented, little is known about its cuticular chemistry.

We would like to congratulate Dr Park and her coauthors for successfully publishing their research in Molecules and share this publication with you all. The findings of this study represent a first detailed description of the Q-fly cuticular compounds and constitute an important foundation for future studies investigating the role of these compounds.

Photo: Dr Vivian Mendez and Dr Soo Jean Park, Research Fellows at Applied BioSciences (Macquarie University).

"Cuticular chemistry of the Queensland fruit fly Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt)"

Soo J. Park, Gunjan Pandey, Cynthia Castro-Vargas, John G. Oakeshott, Phillip W. Taylor & Vivian Mendez 


The cuticular layer of the insect exoskeleton contains diverse compounds that serve important biological functions, including the maintenance of homeostasis by protecting against water loss, protection from injury, pathogens and insecticides, and communication. Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) is the most destructive pest of fruit production in Australia, yet there are no published accounts of this species’ cuticular chemistry. We here provide a comprehensive description of B. tryoni cuticular chemistry. We used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to identify and characterize compounds in hexane extracts of B. tryoni adults reared from larvae in naturally infested fruits. The compounds found included spiroacetals, aliphatic amides, saturated/unsaturated and methyl branched C12 to C20 chain esters and C29 to C33 normal and methyl-branched alkanes. The spiroacetals and esters were found to be specific to mature females, while the amides were found in both sexes. Normal and methyl-branched alkanes were qualitatively the same in all age and sex groups but some of the alkanes differed in amounts (as estimated from internal standard-normalized peak areas) between mature males and females, as well as between mature and immature flies. This study provides essential foundations for studies investigating the functions of cuticular chemistry in this economically important species.

Read the publication here.