Washington, Mar 3 (ANI): It's the scent of a male moth's pheromones that attracts a female towards him, according to a new study.
After an analysis of the pheromones used by the European Corn Borer (ECB, Ostrinia nubilalis), a group of researchers found that females could discern a male's ancestry, age and possibly reproductive fitness from the chemical cocktail he exuded.
Studying the influence of pheromones on mating preferences, Jean-Marc Lassance and Christer Lofstedt from Lund University, Sweden, carried out an analysis of the composition of the scent and genetic makeup of the animals involved.
They also compared the odour bouquet used by males with the scent used by females to attract potential mates.
"Our demonstration of pheromone-based female mate choice and identification of a male courtship pheromone in ECB is of particular importance because it may alter our understanding of the role of pheromones in species formation," said Lassance.
After comparing the pheromones of French, Hungarian, American and Slovenian populations, along with those of an Asian sister species, the researchers found that the changing compositions allowed females to select for males of their own kind.
They do this in a bid to reinforce reproductive isolation, a step on the road to the formation of a new species.
Lassance speculated that combined with the possible indication of genetic fitness, pheromones may be a driving force behind butterfly and moth evolution.
He said: "Populations differ by the presence/absence of a compound designated 'Z11-16:OAc', especially old males, which are the more likely to obtain females' favours. The evolution of mate choice in females from the investigated populations of France and Hungary may have been partly driven by this difference, since choosing males with the compound would result in less hybrid mating."
The study has been published in the open access journal BMC Biology. (ANI)