Biosynthesis, transport, and roles in communication

All insects depend on cuticular lipids for water balance, protection from pathogens and environmental stresses, and for intra- and inter-specific communication (i.e., as pheromones and allelochemics). Hydrocarbons are the major cuticular lipid in insects. Our lab has been researching the chemistry and biochemistry of hydrocarbons and their roles in sexual communication and water balance. Most recently, we have been investigating the interaction of hydrocarbons and pheromones with lipophorin, a carrier lipoprotein that transports hydrocarbons through the hemolymph. Our long-term goal is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the cellular mechanisms that determine the uptake and unloading of hydrocarbons in insects. Specifically, we are interested in:

  • Understanding mechanisms regulating hydrocarbon biosynthesis;
  • Interaction of hydrocarbons with lipophorin;
  • Regulation of cellular influx and efflux of hydrocarbons and lipophorin;
  • The role of lipid transfer particle in catalyzing the transfer of hydrocarbons from oenocytes to lipophorin and from lipophorin to the epidermis and the oocytes;



Selective, tissue-specific deposition of hydrocarbons and pheromones

Recent Collaborations:
Gary Blomquist

Supported by:
Blanton J. Whitmire Endowment