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Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 539624, 10 pages
Research Article

Host-Tree Monoterpenes and Biosynthesis of Aggregation Pheromones in the Bark Beetle Ips paraconfusus

1US Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center, USDA-ARS, 21881 North Cardon Lane, Maricopa, AZ 85138, USA
2Chemical Ecology, Protection Biology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 230-53 Alnarp, Sweden

Received 12 January 2012; Accepted 15 March 2012

Academic Editor: Qing-He Zhang

Copyright © 2012 John A. Byers and Göran Birgersson. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A paradigm developed in the 1970s that Ips bark beetles biosynthesize their aggregation pheromone components ipsenol and ipsdienol by hydroxylating myrcene, a host tree monoterpene. Similarly, host α-pinene was hydroxylated to a third pheromone component cis-verbenol. In 1990, however, we reported that amounts of ipsenol and ipsdienol produced by male Ips paraconfusus (Coleoptera: Scolytinae) feeding in five host pine species were nearly the same, even though no detectable myrcene precursor was detected in one of these pines (Pinus sabiniana). Subsequent research showed ipsenol and ipsdienol are also biosynthesized from smaller precursors such as acetate and mevalonate, and this de novo pathway is the major one, while host tree myrcene conversion by the beetle is the minor one. We report concentrations of myrcene, α-pinene and other major monoterpenes in five pine hosts (Pinus ponderosa, P. lambertiana, P. jeffreyi, P. sabiniana, and P. contorta) of I. paraconfusus. A scheme for biosynthesis of ipsdienol and ipsenol from myrcene and possible metabolites such as ipsenone is presented. Mass spectra and quantities of ipsenone are reported and its possible role in biosynthesis of aggregation pheromone. Coevolution of bark beetles and host trees is discussed in relation to pheromone biosynthesis, host plant selection/suitability, and plant resistance.