Dimethyl disulfide and dimethyl trisulfide: so similar yet so different in evoking biological responses in saprophilous flies

Maurizio Sajeva, Pietro Zito, Alfio Raspi, Stefan Dötterl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Dimethyl disulfide (DMDS) and dimethyl trisulfide (DMTS) are used by saprophilous insects to locate breeding sites (decaying organic matter), and by brood-site deceptive flowers to attract such insects. However, little is known about the relative importance of these two compounds in eliciting electrophysiological and behavioural responses in the insects. Here, we compared the relative attractiveness of DMDS and DMTS to saprophilous flies in field choice experiments and tested whether potential differences in field responses can be explained by differences in electrophysiological antennal responses to these compounds. Field experiments revealed that the attractiveness of a mixture of these compounds is due to DMTS alone. This result was confirmed by electroantennographic recordings in which flies of four tested species of Calliphoridae (Lucilia sericata, L. caesar, Calliphora vicina, Protocalliphora azurea) and one Muscidae (Musca domestica) respond clearly to DMTS, but not to DMDS. In house flies, however, DMTS elicited electrophysiological responses only, not reflected in behavioural assays. Despite the fact that DMTS and DMDS exhibit similar chemical structures, both the electroantennographic and field responses from saprophilous flies to these two compounds strongly differed. Our study suggests that oligosulfide-responsive saprophilous flies rely on DMTS and not DMDS for finding appropriate breeding sites and that DMTS and not DMDS could act as a key mediator for pollinator attraction in brood-site deceptive plants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-267
Number of pages7
JournalChemoecology
Volume24
Publication statusPublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry

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