Effect of age on the juvenile hormone III and methyl geranate levels produced by burying beetle females

Jacqueline Sahm1, Cassandra Jackl1, Sandra Steiger1
1 Evolutionary Anmial Ecology,

O 4.10 in Methods in Ecology and Environmental Research

14.10.2021, 10:03-10:09, H 36

Chemical communication plays a fundamental role in various animal taxa by coordinating family life and parental care. In burying beetles (genus Nicrophorus), females are temporary infertile during care which is mediated by high juvenile hormone III levels. Females communicate their infertility to a male partner via methyl geranate - an anti-aphrodisiac - to stop matings and focus all resources towards care of the current offspring. So far it remains unclear how the age of beetles affects this physiological mechanism and the chemical signal involved. In this study, we investigated the effect of age on the JH III and MG levels of breeding females in Nicrophorus vespilliodes. Using headspace sampling we are able to measure possible changes in the chemical signalling of beetles by acquiring their emitted volatiles in a controlled space. For quantification, we analysed the headspace samples in a thermal desorber connected to a gas chromatograph. However, not only external signals may vary with age, but also internal ones. For this, we quantified differences of their internal states by extracting the hemolymph of beetles through piercing of their intersegmental membrane. We found no changes in the JH III and MG production of females based on their age. This suggests that internal factors like the age of beetles might not effect their production of hormones and pheromones. Finally this shows that our methods can be used to investigate changes in a variety of hormones and pheromones due to various factors and their role in the coordination of family or group life.

Keywords: parental care chemical communication headspace hemolymph thermo desorber gas chromatograph

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