1. Ecology
  2. Evolutionary Biology
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Molecular basis of wax-based color change and UV reflection in dragonflies

  1. Ryo Futahashi  Is a corresponding author
  2. Yumi Yamahama
  3. Migaku Kawaguchi
  4. Naoki Mori
  5. Daisuke Ishii
  6. Genta Okude
  7. Yuji Hirai
  8. Ryouka Kawahara-Miki
  9. Kazutoshi Yoshitake
  10. Shunsuke Yajima
  11. Takahiko Hariyama
  12. Takema Fukatsu
  1. National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan
  2. Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Japan
  3. National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan
  4. Kyoto University, Japan
  5. Nagoya Institute of Technology, Japan
  6. Chitose Institute of Science and Technology, Japan
  7. Tokyo University of Agriculture, Japan
  8. University of Tokyo, Japan
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2019;8:e43045 doi: 10.7554/eLife.43045

Abstract

Many animals change their body color for visual signaling and environmental adaptation. Some dragonflies show wax-based color change and ultraviolet (UV) reflection, but biochemical properties underlying the phenomena are totally unknown. Here we investigated the UV-reflective abdominal wax of dragonflies, thereby identifying very long-chain methyl ketones and aldehydes as unique and major wax components. Although little wax was detected on young adults, dense wax secretion was mainly found on the dorsal abdomen in mature males of Orthetrum albistylum and O. melania, while pruinose wax secretion was identified on the ventral abdomen in mature females of O. albistylum and Sympetrum darwinianum. Comparative transcriptomics demonstrated drastic upregulation of ELOVL17 gene, a member of the fatty acid elongase family, whose expression reflected the distribution of very long-chain methyl ketones. Synthetic 2-pentacosanone, the major component of dragonfly's wax, spontaneously formed light-scattering scale-like fine structures with strong UV reflection, suggesting its potential utility for biomimetics.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Ryo Futahashi

    Bioproduction Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Japan
    For correspondence
    ryo-futahashi@aist.go.jp
    Competing interests
    Ryo Futahashi, An international patent on the synthesis method and application of very long chain methyl ketones and aldehydes was applied as PCT/JP2018/019559.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-4791-7054
  2. Yumi Yamahama

    Department of Biology, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan
    Competing interests
    Yumi Yamahama, An international patent on the synthesis method and application of very long chain methyl ketones and aldehydes was applied as PCT/JP2018/019559.
  3. Migaku Kawaguchi

    National Metrology Institute of Japan, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Japan
    Competing interests
    Migaku Kawaguchi, An international patent on the synthesis method and application of very long chain methyl ketones and aldehydes was applied as PCT/JP2018/019559.
  4. Naoki Mori

    Division of Applied Life Sciences, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  5. Daisuke Ishii

    Department of Life Science and Applied Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering, Nagoya Institute of Technology, Nagoya, Japan
    Competing interests
    Daisuke Ishii, An international patent on the synthesis method and application of very long chain methyl ketones and aldehydes was applied as PCT/JP2018/019559.
  6. Genta Okude

    Bioproduction Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Japan
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  7. Yuji Hirai

    Applied Chemistry and Bioscience, Chitose Institute of Science and Technology, Chitose, Japan
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  8. Ryouka Kawahara-Miki

    NODAI Genome Research Center, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Tokyo, Japan
    Competing interests
    Ryouka Kawahara-Miki, An international patent on the synthesis method and application of very long chain methyl ketones and aldehydes was applied as PCT/JP2018/019559.
  9. Kazutoshi Yoshitake

    Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  10. Shunsuke Yajima

    NODAI Genome Research Center, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Tokyo, Japan
    Competing interests
    Shunsuke Yajima, An international patent on the synthesis method and application of very long chain methyl ketones and aldehydes was applied as PCT/JP2018/019559.
  11. Takahiko Hariyama

    Department of Biology, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan
    Competing interests
    Takahiko Hariyama, An international patent on the synthesis method and application of very long chain methyl ketones and aldehydes was applied as PCT/JP2018/019559.
  12. Takema Fukatsu

    Bioproduction Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Japan
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.

Funding

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JP26660276)

  • Ryo Futahashi

Genome research for BioResource NODAI Genome Research Center

  • Ryo Futahashi
  • Ryouka Kawahara-Miki
  • Shunsuke Yajima

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JP18H02491)

  • Ryo Futahashi

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JP18H04893)

  • Ryo Futahashi

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. David Lentink, Stanford University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: October 22, 2018
  2. Accepted: January 7, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: January 15, 2019 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: January 30, 2019 (version 2)
  5. Version of Record updated: February 1, 2019 (version 3)

Copyright

© 2019, Futahashi et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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