Monday, September 11, 2023

C&EN: 4-vinylanisole is a locust pheromone

In this week's C&EN (article by  Priyanka Runwal):
Locusts typically lead solitary lives. But unusually heavy rains, for example, can trigger these grasshoppers to multiply and aggregate into gargantuan swarms that decimate pastures and fields.

For decades, scientists have been trying to understand how and why the locusts turn gregarious and gather by the millions. In 2020, Chinese Academy of Sciences researchers identified a pheromone called 4-vinylanisole(4-VA) released by the insects that lures nearby locusts and recruits them into joining the swarm. In a new study, the same team found that 4-VA promotes such gregarious behavior by increasing social interactions among locusts (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2023, DOI:10.1073/pnas.2306659120).
It's pretty remarkable how simple organic molecules are used by insects to communicate...

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