Female sex pheromone suppression and the fate of sex-peptide-like peptides in mated moths of Helicoverpa armigera



Insect males produce accessory gland (MAG) factors that are transferred in the seminal fluid to females during copulation, and elicit changes in the mated female's behavior and physiology. Our previous studies showed that the injection of synthetic Drosophila melanogaster sex-peptide (DrmSP) into virgin females of the moth Helicoverpa armigera causes a significant inhibition of pheromone production. In this and other moth species, pheromone production, correlated with female receptivity, is under neuroendocrine control due to the circadian release of the neuropeptide PBAN. In this study, we show that PBAN, present in the hemolymph during the scotophase in females, is drastically reduced after mating. We also identify 4 DrmSP-like HPLC peaks (Peaks A, S1, S2, and B) in MAGs, with increasing levels of DrmSP immunoreactivity during the scotophase, when compared to their levels observed during the photophase. In H. armigera MAGs, a significant reduction in the pheromonostatic peak (Peak B) was already evident after 15 min of copulation, and depletion of an additional peak (Peak S2) was evident after complete mating. Peak A is also detected in female brains, increasing significantly 1 h after mating, at which time inhibition of pheromone biosynthesis also occurs. However, changes corresponding to the other MAG peaks were not detected in mated female tissues. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 64:142–155, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.