Cuticular hydrocarbons as a basis for chemosensory self-referencing in crickets: A potentially universal mechanism facilitating polyandry in insects

Carie B. Weddle, Sandra Steiger, Christopher G. Hamaker, Geoffrey D. Ower, Christopher Mitchell, Scott K. Sakaluk, John Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Females of many species obtain benefits by mating polyandrously, and often prefer novel males over previous mates. However, how do females recognise previous mates, particularly in the face of cognitive constraints? Female crickets appear to have evolved a simple but effective solution: females imbue males with their own cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) at mating and utilise chemosensory self-referencing to recognise recent mates. Female CHC profiles exhibited significant additive genetic variation, demonstrating that genetically unique chemical cues are available to support chemosensory self-referencing. CHC profiles of males became more similar to those of females after mating, indicating physical transfer of CHCs between individuals during copulation. Experimental perfuming of males with female CHCs resulted in a female aversion to males bearing chemical cues similar to their own. Chemosensory self-referencing, therefore, could be a widespread mechanism by which females increase the diversity of their mating partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-353
Number of pages8
JournalEcology Letters
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Chemical communication
  • Crickets
  • Cuticular hydrocarbons
  • Gryllodes sigillatus
  • Mate choice
  • Mate recognition
  • Polyandry
  • Self-referent phenotype matching
  • Sexual selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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