The sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis (Lutz & Neiva) (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebotominae) is the main vector of American visceral leishmaniasis. Adult males produce a terpenoid sex pheromone that in some cases also acts as male aggregation pheromone. We have analyzed the correlation between male pheromone production levels and pheromone gland cell morphogenesis after adult emergence from pupae. The abdominal tergites of L. longipalpis males were dissected and fixed in glutaraldehyde for transmission electron microscopy, or the pheromone was extracted in analytical grade hexane. Pheromone chemical analysis was carried out at 3- to 6-h intervals during the first 24 h after emergence and continued daily until the seventh day. All extracts were analyzed by gas chromatography. For the morphological analysis, we used insects collected at 0–6, 9–12, 12–14, and 96 h after emergence. Ultrastructural data from 0- to 6-h-old adult males revealed smaller pheromone gland cells with small microvilli at the end apparatus. Lipid droplets and peroxisomes were absent or very rare, but a large number of mitochondria could be seen. Lipid droplets started to appear in the gland cells cytoplasm ≈9 h after adult emergence, and their number and size increased with age, together with the presence of several peroxisomes, suggesting a role for these organelles in pheromone biosynthesis. At 12–15 h after emergence, the lipid droplets were mainly distributed near the microvilli but were smaller than those in mature older males (4 d old). Pheromone biosynthesis started around 12 h after emergence and increased continuously during the first 3 d, stabilizing thereafter, coinciding with the period when males are more able to attract females.
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