Impacts of ionization radiation on the cuticular hydrocarbon profile and mating success of male house crickets (Acheta domesticus)
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PURPOSE: Ionizing radiation is well known to have drastic impacts on major life history features including survivorship, growth, fertility, and longevity. What is much less appreciated is how radiation stress can cause changes to more subtle traits, such as those associated with sexual signaling, an underappreciated but vital aspect of insect reproduction. In the House Cricket (Acheta domesticus) cuticular hydrocarbons are vital for sex and species recognition, as well as a possible indicator of stress, making them crucial for successful mating and reproduction. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Here, we analyze the impacts of ionizing radiation on the cuticular hydrocarbons of male crickets and its subsequent impacts on mating success. We exposed juvenile (14-day, 4th instar) male crickets to a broad range of radiation doses (2 Gy - 2 Gy). RESULTS: We detected significant changes in individual cuticular hydrocarbons across a broad range of doses in mature male crickets using gas-liquid chromatography. Specifically, dose was identified as a significant contributing factor to hydrocarbon increases p < .0001. Mating success was significantly reduced in 12 Gy (p < .0001), 10 Gy (0.0001), and 7 Gy (0.0060) groups compared to non-irradiated controls. CONCLUSION: Insect chemical communication can be species specific, and functionally specialized. Here, we show that radiation can alter the chemical signals used to attract mates in a large bodied insect and this may be a contributing factor to the described reduction in male mating success. Further research should be conducted to further analyze the various modes of communication employed by male crickets to attract mates i.e. acoustic signaling, and how this may also contribute to the reduction in mating success seen in irradiated males.
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