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Completed Project

Pheromone Responses and Mate Choice in Callosobruchus maculatus

Aidan Wilcox, Vassar College ’16 and Lecturer/Laboratory Coordinator in Biology Mary Ellen Czesak

The bean beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus, is a common agricultural pest in tropical and subtropical climates. It feeds primarily on stored legumes, using the beans as a food source for developing larvae. It uses pheromone signatures to communicate, and locate food and mates. This study attempted to determine the effect of population of bean host on mating choice of male beetles. Male beetles of two populations were used. One collected in South India (SI), which feeds primarily on mung beans (Vigna radiata), and the other collected in Burkina Faso (BF), which feeds on cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata). Beetles of each population were presented with a choice test between their native group and groups of different populations or rearing hosts. While there was no significant difference in the eventual choice each beetle made, beetles spent a significantly greater amount of time investigating the experimental (non-native) population. These data suggest that C. maculatus may alter its behavior in response to sex pheromones from different hosts or populations, but that its ultimate choice of mate is not affected.