Identification and tissue expression profiling of odorant binding protein genes in the red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus
Trapping systems for the red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Olivier, rely on the use of natural plant odor sources to boost the attractiveness of the aggregation pheromone. The identification of the key odorants involved in attraction is essential in the development of a synthetic pheromone synergist to replace the nonstandardized use of plant material in traps. Canary Islands date palms (Phoenix canariensis) have become preferred hosts for R. ferrugineus in Europe; thus, the volatile profile of different P. canariensis plant materials, including healthy and infested tissues, is investigated in the present work by means of solid phase microextraction (SPME-GC-MS), aimed to identify pheromone synergists. The electroantennography (EAG) response of the compounds identified was recorded, as well as the preliminary field response of several EAG-active compounds. The so-called "palm esters" (ethyl acetate, ethyl propionate, ethyl butyrate, and propyl butyrate) elicit the strongest EAG responses but performed poorly in the field. Mixtures of esters and alcohols give evidence of better performance, but release rates need further optimization.