Two fatty acyl reductases involved in moth pheromone biosynthesis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Fatty acyl reductases (FARs) constitute an evolutionarily conserved gene family found in all kingdoms of life. Members of the FAR gene family play diverse roles, including seed oil synthesis, insect pheromone biosynthesis, and mammalian wax biosynthesis. In insects, FAR genes dedicated to sex pheromone biosynthesis (pheromone-gland-specific fatty acyl reductase, pgFAR) form a unique clade that exhibits substantial modifications in gene structure and possesses unique specificity and selectivity for fatty acyl substrates. Highly selective and semi-selective 'single pgFARs' produce single and multicomponent pheromone signals in bombycid, pyralid, yponomeutid and noctuid moths. An intriguing question is how a 'single reductase' can direct the synthesis of several fatty alcohols of various chain lengths and isomeric forms. Here, we report two active pgFARs in the pheromone gland of Spodoptera, namely a semi-selective, C14:acyl-specific pgFAR and a highly selective, C16:acyl-specific pgFAR, and demonstrate that these pgFARs play a pivotal role in the formation of species-specific signals, a finding that is strongly supported by functional gene expression data. The study envisages a new area of research for disclosing evolutionary changes associated with C14 - and C16 -specific FARs in moth pheromone biosynthesis.


  • Binu Antony
  • Baojian Ding
  • Ken'Ichi Moto
  • Saleh A. Aldosari
  • Abdulrahman S. Aldawood
External organisations
  • King Saud University
  • RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Genetics
Original languageEnglish
Article number29927
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jul 18
Publication categoryResearch