Faculté des sciences

Contact chemostimuli in the mating behaviour of the cattle tick, Boophilus microplus

de Bruyne, Marien ; Guerin, Patrick M.

In: Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology, 1999, vol. 39, no. 2, p. 65-80

Mating of the cattle tick Boophilus microplus is mediated by chemical stimuli on the cuticle of females. Males are arrested on the dorsum of females attached to the host, frequently sample the substrate, and then tip-over to the ventrally located gonopore. These behaviours are also observed in vitro when males are placed on a small glass bead treated with a female extract. Time spent and... Plus

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    Summary
    Mating of the cattle tick Boophilus microplus is mediated by chemical stimuli on the cuticle of females. Males are arrested on the dorsum of females attached to the host, frequently sample the substrate, and then tip-over to the ventrally located gonopore. These behaviours are also observed in vitro when males are placed on a small glass bead treated with a female extract. Time spent and tip-over by male ticks on dummies is used in an assay to test the behavioural significance of fractions of the extract. TLC separation yields one apolar fraction that arrests males, though much less so than the whole extract, but lost tip-over behaviour. This apolar fraction contains a series of cholesteryl esters that, when tested individually, show no arrestment activity at levels present in the extract but, when combined, are as active as the fraction. When a small silica column is used for fractionation, all biological activity is reproduced after recombining the fractions. In addition to the early eluting apolar fraction containing cholesteryl esters, a set of highly active more polar fractions is isolated. Electrophysiological recordings from gustatory sensilla on the pedipalps of male B. microplus, which are regularly brought into contact with the cuticle of the female during mating, provide evidence for receptors in two of them responding to the whole extract and to the behaviourally active polar fractions. Mating behaviour involving arrestment and tip-over is clearly initiated by a mixture of chemical stimuli, and tip-over behaviour is associated with the more polar material.