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J Comp Physiol B. 2007 Apr;177(3):375-91. Epub 2007 Jan 12.

Nicotine moderates the effects of macronutrient balance on nutrient intake by parasitized Manduca sexta L.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


Effects of dietary nicotine and macronutrient ratio on M. sexta larvae were examined. Larvae were fed a carbohydrate-biased, protein-biased or diet having equal amounts of casein and sucrose, with and without nicotine. Without nicotine, larvae displayed compensatory feeding on the low protein diet, but despite consuming more, grew least on this diet. Nicotine at 0.5% had no effect on nutrient consumption. Nicotine at 1.0 and 2.0% reduced overall consumption and thereby also reduced nicotine consumption. Larvae parasitized by C. congregata displayed reduced nutrient intake and growth on all diets. Parasitized larvae responded to 1% nicotine similarly to unparasitized larvae. At 0.5% nicotine, they displayed reduced consumption on all diets, possibly due to altered chemoreceptor sensitivity to nicotine. When offered a choice of two diets having different macronutrient ratios, one with and the other without 0.1% nicotine, all larvae preferred the diet lacking nicotine and failed to regulate nutrient intake such that the nutrient intake target, a ratio of nutrients supporting optimal growth, was achieved. Parasitized larvae consumed less nicotine on a fresh weight basis than unparasitized insects, suggesting that the feeding response of parasitized larvae to nicotine minimizes the exposure of nicotine to developing parasites.

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