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J Chem Ecol. 2005 Oct;31(10):2403-15. Epub 2005 Sep 28.

Scheloribatid mites as the source of pumiliotoxins in dendrobatid frogs.

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Department of Applied Life Sciences, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


The strawberry poison frog Dendrobates pumilio (Anura: Dendrobatidae) and related poison frogs contain a variety of dendrobatid alkaloids that are considered to be sequestered through the consumption of alkaloid-containing arthropods microsympatrically distributed in the habitat. In addition to ants, beetles, and millipedes, we found that adults of two species of oribatid mites belonging to the cohort Brachypylina, trophically a lower level of animal than ants and beetles, contain dendrobatid alkaloids. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) of hexane extracts of adult Scheloribates azumaensis (Oribatida: Acari) revealed the presence of not only pumiliotoxin 251D (8-hydroxy-8-methyl-6-(2'-methylhexylidene)-1-azabicyclo[4.3.0]nonane), but also precoccinelline 193C and another coccinelline-type alkaloid. From the corresponding extracts of an unidentified Scheloribates sp., pumiliotoxin 237A (8-hydroxy-8-methyl-6-(2'-methylpentylidene)-1-azabicyclo[4.3.0]nonane) was detected as a minor component, and identified by synthesis. The presence of related alkaloids, namely deoxypumiliotoxin 193H, a 6,8-diethyl-5-propenylindolizidine, and tentatively, a 1-ethyl-4-pentenynylquinolizidine, were indicated by the GC/MS fragmentation patterns, along with at least another six unidentified alkaloid components. Thus, one possible origin of pumiliotoxins, coccinellid alkaloids, and certain izidines found in poison frogs may be mites of the genus Scheloribates and perhaps related genera in the suborder Oribatida.

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