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J Chem Ecol. 2010 Aug;36(8):905-13. doi: 10.1007/s10886-010-9825-z. Epub 2010 Jul 9.

Differential effects of indole and aliphatic glucosinolates on lepidopteran herbivores.

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Institut für Pharmazeutische Biologie, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany.


Glucosinolates are a diverse group of defensive secondary metabolites that is characteristic of the Brassicales. Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. (Brassicaceae) lines with mutations that greatly reduce abundance of indole glucosinolates (cyp79B2 cyp79B3), aliphatic glucosinolates (myb28 myb29), or both (cyp79B2 cyp79B3 myb28 myb29) make it possible to test the in vivo defensive function of these two major glucosinolate classes. In experiments with Lepidoptera that are not crucifer-feeding specialists, aliphatic and indole glucosinolates had an additive effect on Spodoptera exigua (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) larval growth, whereas Trichoplusia ni (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and Manduca sexta (L.) (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) were affected only by the absence of aliphatic glucosinolates. In the case of two crucifer-feeding specialists, Pieris rapae (L.) (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) and Plutella xylostella (L.) (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae), there were no major changes in larval performance due to decreased aliphatic and/or indole glucosinolate content. Nevertheless, choice tests show that aliphatic and indole glucosinolates act in an additive manner to promote larval feeding of both species and P. rapae oviposition. Together, these results support the hypothesis that a diversity of glucosinolates is required to limit the growth of multiple insect herbivores.

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