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科学美国人60秒: 异性相吸

所属教程:科学美国人60秒科学系列 更新:01-05
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Decoy Mating Call Battles Citrus Pest

异性相吸

Ten years ago, a bacterial disease began to eat away at the Florida citrus crop. It's called huanglongbing, or citrus greening, and it causes misshapen, bitter green fruits and, eventually, dead trees. Since 2005, the infection is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage.

10年前,一场细菌疾病开始侵蚀佛罗里达州的柑橘作物。这种细菌疾病被称之为柑橘黄龙病或青果病,可导致绿色果实畸形、苦涩,最终导致柑橘树木死亡。据估计,自2005年起,此疾病已造成的损失已达数十亿美元。

And the microbe did all that damage with the unwitting help of a tiny winged insect, the citrus psyllid, which spreads the bacterium as it feeds. But now researchers at the USDA and the University of Florida have come up with a pesticide-free way to battle the insect: by disrupting its ability to find a mate.

柑橘木虱,为一种小翅膀昆虫。细菌正是在柑橘木虱无意的帮助下,对柑橘作物造成了伤害。因为柑橘木虱以柑橘为食,而传播了细菌。但是,现在美国农业部和佛罗里达大学的研究者们提出了一种不用杀虫剂就能将柑橘木虱杀死的方法:破坏其寻找配偶的能力。

When male psyllids are looking for love, they beat their wings, sending vibrations along a tree's branches. Nearby females pick up that signal and send back one of their own, which tells males to come hither.

雄性木虱在寻找配偶时,会怕打翅膀,沿着树枝发出振动。附近的雌性木虱接收到信号后,就会发出信号,通知雄性配偶过来。

The researchers eavesdropped on that duet with a microphone, rigged to an electronic microcontroller. And when the controller identified a male's call, it sent out a decoy female response --more quickly than real females could respond. That imposter's call actually lured males to the device, where instead of a mate they found flypaper. The researchers presented the results at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, in Jacksonville, Florida.

研究人员通过佩戴,由电子微控制器操纵的耳机,窃听了这首二重奏。控制器在识别了雄性配偶的信号后,就会发出假的雌性木虱信号——该信号的发出速度快于真实雌性木虱的反应速度。实际上骗子信号将雄性木虱引诱到设备处,它们会发现,这里没有雌性配偶,而只有捕蝇纸。在佛罗里达州,杰克逊维尔召开的美国声学学会的会议上,研究人员展示了该研究结果。

The technique isn't ready for the limelight just yet. For one, though the decoy call does fool the bugs, they’re still adept at avoiding the flypaper. But the researchers say this sort of "signal jamming" interference might be able to disrupt the insects' ability to find a mate, cutting overall numbers of the pest. A similar technique has worked in vineyards--and if it works in orange groves, it could help citrus growers get out of this squeeze.

这项技术尚未引起人们的关注。一方面原因是,尽管信号诱惑了这些傻瓜,但是雄性木虱仍擅长躲避捕蝇纸。但研究人员称,这种“信号干扰”可能会破坏其寻找配偶的能力,这样柑橘木虱的数量就会大大较少。类似的方法已经在葡萄园奏效,如果该种方法对于柑橘也起作用,那么,就会帮助柑橘种植者们摆脱经济拮据的局面。

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