Based on previous findings that aggregation behavior in the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, is mediated by a mix of volatile carboxylic acids [Scherkenbeck J. et al. 1999. J. Chem. Ecol. 25:1105-1119], we hypothesized that symbiotic microbes might be involved. Aggregation assays in dishes and olfactometer assays in Y-tubes revealed significant differences in the attractiveness of fecal extracts of German cockroaches reared under sterile or non-sterile conditions. Eleven species of bacteria were aerobically cultured and isolated on broad-spectrum and selective artificial media from feces of non-sterile cockroaches and identified by phenotype and sequencing of 16S rDNA. Sterile first instars cockroaches inoculated orally with individual or mixtures of bacterial isolates produced feces that was significantly more attractive to conspecifics than the feces of sterile cockroaches. These results show that gut microbes are involved in the production of B. germanica aggregation attractants and arrestants. Analysis of carboxylic acids from feces extracts by GC-MS revealed significant differences between sterile and non-sterile feces.
Species 1: Blattaria Blattellidae Blattella germanica (German cockroach)
Keywords: aggregation pheromone, fatty acid
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