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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Nov;37(11):1189-97. Epub 2007 Jul 25.

Intimate roles for cyanogenic glucosides in the life cycle of Zygaena filipendulae (Lepidoptera, Zygaenidae).

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1
Department of Plant Biology and Center for Molecular Plant Physiology, University of Copenhagen, 40 Thorvaldsensvej, DK-1871 Frederiksberg C, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Abstract

Zygaena larvae sequester the cyanogenic glucosides (CNglcs) linamarin and lotaustralin from their food plants (Fabaceae) and also de novo biosynthesize these compounds. In Zygaenidae, CNglcs serve as defence compounds during the entire life cycle, and their content and ratio are tightly regulated. We demonstrate that Z. filipendulae males transfer a nuptial gift of CNglcs to females during mating, and that females prefer males with a higher content of CNglcs for mating. Average HCN emission from female imagines is 19 times higher than from males, suggesting that plumes of HCN emitted from the perching female may serve to attract flying males. Analysis of the linamarin and lotaustralin content and ratio within different tissues in Z. filipendulae larvae shows that integument and haemolymph constitute the main sites of CNglc deposition. The data suggest that CNglcs may serve an additional role as storage compounds of reduced nitrogen that is mobilized during the transition of the last instar larva to imago, most likely to provide nitrogen for chitin synthesis. At least one of the enzymes responsible for de novo biosynthesis of CNglcs in Z. filipendulae is located in the integument. In conclusion, CNglcs play many important and different roles during the entire life cycle of Z. filipendulae in addition to defence.

PMID:
17916505
DOI:
10.1016/j.ibmb.2007.07.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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