Macquarie University
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The role of sex pheromones in a sexually cannibalistic praying mantid, Pseudomantis albofimbriata: identification and behavioural responses

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posted on 2022-03-28, 14:23 authored by Md Mahmudunnabi
Praying mantids are a group of charismatic predatory insects that use visual cues for mate location at short-distances, whereas long-distance communication mainly relies on chemical cues, i.e., air-borne pheromone s. Pheromones have been assumed to be important components of the mantid mating system. This thesis examines the pheromone biology in the false garden mantid, Pseudomantis albofimbriata Stål which is a sit-and-wait predator, sexually cannibalistic and size dimorphic, mainly found in eastern Australia. Various aspects of mating system and reproductive biology have previously been investigated in P. albofimbriata, however direct evidence of female-emitted pheromones and their chemical identification is lacking. Before starting the chemical identification, I investigated the female calling behaviour and male responses. This behavioural study described female cal ling behaviour i n this species for the first time and provided evidence that female calling behaviour and pheromone emission are intimately linked. Furthermore, the observations indicated the age and time window in which volatile pheromone collection would be most successful fo r P. albofimbriata. In addition, I made an attempt to identify the pheromone emission site in females and proposed that sex pheromone glands could be present on the intertergal membrane between the abdominal segments 3/4, 4/5, 5/6 and 6/7 on the female, however glandular tissue has not been found. The distribution and abundance of olfactory sensilla in males using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), which responsible for volatile chemical signal detection has also described. Then, the collection of volatiles from false garden mantids was conducted using three different methods - air trapping, solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and solvent extraction - to identify the suitable volatile collection method. The samples collected analysed through the gas chromatography linked to mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The results indicated that solvent extraction and air trapping met hods identified a series of hydrocarbons, mainly alkanes, in praying mantid volatiles that is present in both male and female samples, suggesting these methods were unable to identify female-specific compounds that might be candidates for pheromones. However, the SPME method successfully identified three acidic compounds such as tetradecanoic acid (C 14 ), pentadecanoic acid (C 15 ), n -hexadecanoic acid (C 16 ), that were female-specific. Then, I repeated the SPME method with slight modifications to identify the pheromone from female and similar results obtained indicate the se compounds probable pheromone candidates in P. albofimbriata. I subsequently conducted behavioural assay to test male responses to these chemicals. Males were not significantly attracted to the synthetic samples of C 14 , C 15 and C 16 acid compounds, demonstrating these compounds were unlikely to be sex pheromone components for this species, requiring further work on identifying additional chemicals in the female profiles. On the whole, this thesis makes a contribution to understanding the chemical ecology in praying mantid mating systems.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Mantid sex pheromones: female calling behaviour and male responses in the Australian false garden mantid, Pseudomantis albofimbriata (Mantodea: Mantidae) -- Chapter 2: Morphological studies of praying mantids: potential sex pheromone emission sites in females and olfactory sensilla in males -- Chapter 3: Sex pheromones of the Australian false garden mantid, Pseudomantis albofimbriata: volatile collection and analysis -- Chapter 4: Identification and bioassay of sex pheromone of the Australian false garden mantid, Pseudomantis albofimbriata -- Conclusion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 103-108

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Department of Biological Sciences

Department, Centre or School

Department of Biological Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Marie E. Herberstein


Copyright Md Mahmudunnabi 2019. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (viii, 113 pages)

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