A mixture of behaviorally active volatiles was identified from the fruit of snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus laevigatus, for Rhagoletis zephyria flies reared from snowberry fruit. A nine-component blend containing 3-methylbutan-1-ol (3%), dimethyl trisulfide (1%), 1-octen-3-ol (40%), myrcene (8%), nonanal (9%), linalool (13%), (3E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene (DMNT, 6%), decanal (15%), and β-caryophyllene (5%) was identified that gave consistent electroantennogram activity and was behaviorally active in flight tunnel tests. In other flight tunnel assays, snowberry flies from two sites in Washington state, USA, displayed significantly greater levels of upwind oriented flight to sources with the snowberry volatile blend compared with previously identified volatile blends from domestic apple (Malus domestica) and downy hawthorn (Crataegus mollis) fruit from the eastern USA, and domestic apple, black hawthorn (C. douglasii) and ornamental hawthorn (C. monogyna) from Washington state. Selected subtraction assays showed that whereas removal of DMNT or 1-octen-3-ol significantly reduced the level of upwind flight, removal of myrcene and β-caryophyllene, or dimethyl trisulfide alone did not significantly affect the proportion of upwind flights. Our findings add to previous studies showing that populations of Rhagoletis flies infesting different host fruit are attracted to unique mixtures of volatile compounds specific to their respective host plants. Taken together, the results support the hypothesis that differences among flies in their behavioral responses to host fruit odors represent key adaptations involved in sympatric host plant shifts, contributing to host specific mating and generating prezygotic reproductive isolation among members of the R. pomonella sibling species complex.
Keywords: Electroantennogram detection; Flight tunnel; Gas chromatography; Habitat choice; Reproductive isolation; Sympatric speciation.