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Microbiology. 2002 Nov;148(Pt 11):3737-41.

Naphthalene, an insect repellent, is produced by Muscodor vitigenus, a novel endophytic fungus.

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  • 1Department of Plant Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA.


Muscodor vitigenus is a recently described endophytic fungus of Paullinia paullinioides, a liana growing in the understorey of the rainforests of the Peruvian Amazon. This fungus produces naphthalene under certain cultural conditions. Naphthalene produced by M. vitigenus was identified by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Its chromatographic and mass spectral properties were identical to authentic naphthalene. Agar plugs supporting growth of the fungus and producing known amounts of naphthalene effectively repelled the adult stage of the wheat stem sawfly, Cephus cinctus, in Y-tube bioassay tests. Authentic naphthalene, at comparable concentrations to those in tests involving the fungus itself, mimicked the insect repellency of the fungus. Although other Muscodor spp. produce volatile antimicrobials, M. vitigenus is unique in its ability to produce naphthalene almost exclusively. This report also describes the potential practical implications of M. vitigenus.

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