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J Insect Physiol. 1997 Nov;43(12):1169-1175.

Impact of dietary allelochemicals on gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) caterpillars: importance of midgut alkalinity.

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Pesticide Research Laboratory, Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, U.S.A.


Midgut pH of gypsy moth larvae was depressed artificially with buffered diet to examine the impact of alkalinity on the caterpillars' ability to tolerate a dietary polyphenol and a quinone. A 2x3 factorial design was used, with 2 levels of succinate buffer and 3 dietary amendments (tannic acid, juglone, or control). Development was monitored during the third and fourth instars, with consumption, food passage rates, midgut pH, and midgut redox potential (Eh) measured in the fourth instar. Diet buffering successfully depressed midgut pH to hypothetically suboptimal acidic levels without reductions in survivorship, but it did reduce larval growth and impede development. Buffering dramatically reduced survivorship of fourth instar larvae eating diets containing tannic acid or juglone. Growth increased on unbuffered diet amended with tannic acid, but not with juglone. Caterpillars passed food through the gut more slowly when feeding on buffered tannic acid diet or on unbuffered juglone diet. These results indicate that maintenance of midgut alkalinity is critical to tolerance of dietary tannic acid and juglone, and that these allelochemicals have very different activities in the caterpillar gut.

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