Wolbachia-Free Heteropterans Do Not Produce Defensive Chemicals or Alarm Pheromones

Judith X. Becerra, Gabriela X. Venable, Vahid Saeidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The true bugs, or heteropterans, are known for their widespread production of anti-predator chemicals and alarm pheromones in scent glands, a derived trait that constitutes one of the defining characters of the suborder Heteroptera and a potential novel trait that contributed to their diversification. We investigated whether symbiotic bacteria could be involved in the formation of these chemicals using Thasus neocalifornicus, a coreid bug that produces semiochemicals frequently found in other bugs. Using DNA phylogenetic methodology and experiments using antibiotics coupled with molecular techniques, we identified Wolbachia as the microorganism infecting the scent glands of this bug. Decreasing the level of Wobachia infection using antibiotics was correlated with a diminution of heteropteran production of defensive compounds and alarm pheromones, suggesting that this symbiotic bacterium might be implicated in the formation of chemicals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-601
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 6 2015


  • 4-oxo-(E)-2-hexenal
  • Aldehydes
  • Heteroptera
  • Symbiosis
  • Wolbachia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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