March/April 2023 - 19

Thus, the researchers had to collect extracts from
numerous cohorts of sexually mature male bugs for more
than a year to isolate sufficient amounts of the compound
to tentatively identify it by nuclear magnetic resonance
spectrometry. To conclusively prove the identification,
they had to synthesize the compound, making enough for
field testing.
With the compound finally in hand, the team gave it
the name leptotriene.
Wilson received a box of the first five lures to put out in the
field, where the rubber meets the road.
" It was like, 'Holy cow, we've got to get this right,' " he said,
because in total, this represented several years of work.
The lures showed that leptotriene was the key
component of the pheromone blend, and leptotriene
alone in the hanging panel traps was attractive to
leaffooted bug females.
Since those first trials, the team has been working to
improve the efficiency of the synthesized lure, because it
can only be commercialized if it can be produced at scale
and at an affordable price.
There are also a number of field experiments
underway to look at leptotriene on its own as well as
in combination with the other eight compounds of the
blend, to determine the subset of compounds that are
both necessary and sufficient for optimal attraction.
L. zonatus
hooked up to
The more components are in the blend, the more
expensive it will be, and so the team is trying to find a
combination that will provide strong attraction with
a relatively small number of components. Field trials
planned for the coming season will focus on identifying
this optimal blend through a series of iterative trials.
This year will be the seventh and last year to wrap up
the project and deliver a practical monitoring system to
the grower groups who have supported the research.
" It's been a long road, but it's really important work, and
we've steadily made progress each year, " Wilson said.
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March/April 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March/April 2023

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