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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cuticular hydrocarbons of the flea beetles, Aphthona lacertosa and Aphthona nigriscutis, biocontrol agents for leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula).

The adult beetles Aphthona lacertosa and Aphthona nigriscutis, used as biocontrol agents for leafy spurge, had a complex mixture of hydrocarbons on their cuticular surface consisting of alkanes, methylalkanes, alkenes and alkadienes as determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. A trace amount of wax esters were present. In both species, the hydrocarbons were the major cuticular lipid class and the gas chromatographic profiles of the total hydrocarbons were similar. However, the profiles for the saturated hydrocarbon fraction were distinct for each species. Alkanes (n-alkanes and methyl-branched alkanes), alkenes and alkadienes comprised 26, 44 and 30%, respectively, for A. lacertosa, and 48, 26 and 26%, respectively, for A. nigriscutis, of the total hydrocarbons. The major methyl-branched hydrocarbons were 2-methylalkanes: 2-methyloctacosane and 2-methyltriacontane. The major monoene was hentriacontene and the major diene was tritriacontadiene. The species were unique in that a number of di- and trimethyl-branched alkanes were present in minor quantities in which the first methyl branch was on carbon 2 or 3. Examples of structures were 2,10-, 2,12-, 2,6-, 2,4- and 3,7-dimethylalkanes. 2,10,12-Trimethylalkanes and a 2,10,12,24-tetramethylalkane with one methylene between adjacent methyl branch points also were identified. The adjacent methyl branch points of the 2,4- and 2,10,12- and 2,10,12,24-methyl-branched alkanes appeared to cause additional fragmentations in the mass spectra. Dimethylalkanes with an odd number of carbons in the backbone of the molecule were identified as 2,23-dimethylnonacosane and 2,25-dimethylhentriacontane; their mass spectra also corresponded to mass spectra expected for a 2,6 branching sequence. However, a 2,6 branching sequence is not biosynthetically feasible because such a structure has a straight-chain tail with an odd number of carbon atoms beyond the last methyl branch point. The 2,23 and 2,25 branching sequences could be synthesized starting with a primer derived from the amino acid leucine which would account for both the even number of carbons between the branch points and an even number of carbons beyond the last methyl branch point.[1]


  1. Cuticular hydrocarbons of the flea beetles, Aphthona lacertosa and Aphthona nigriscutis, biocontrol agents for leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula). Nelson, D.R., Olson, D.L., Fatland, C.L. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B, Biochem. Mol. Biol. (2002) [Pubmed]
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