Bark beetles are among the most significant economic pests in North America, causing the loss of billions of board feet of timber each year and adding to the fuel load that contributed to the devastating wild fires in the western U.S. over the past several decades. The long term goal of this project is to develop new and effective pest management tactics based on pheromone systems (chemical secretions produced by the beetles). Except for a brief pheromone directed flight, bark beetles spend the majority of their lives protected beneath the bark of the trees they colonize and kill. Pheromones are essential for beetles to mount the mass attack that leads to tree death. This research project is designed to gain a better understanding of the biochemical processes by which bark beetles produce pheromones. Bark beetles produce pheromone components in the midgut by mobilizing and up-regulating the enzymes of the mevalonate pathway and by specialization of the enzymes that detoxify tree defensive chemicals. The final steps in pheromone production involve changing the stereochemistry of terpenoid alcohols to achieve the final blend that functions as the pheromone. This project is designed to characterize these enzymes. In addition, a post-doctoral fellow, a graduate student, and several undergraduates will be trained during the work on the project.