De novo Synthesis of Chemical Defenses in an Aposematic Moth
Burdfield-Steel, E., Pakkanen, H., Rojas Zuluaga, B., Galarza, J., & Mappes, J. (2018). De novo Synthesis of Chemical Defenses in an Aposematic Moth. Journal of Insect Science, 18 (2), 28. doi:10.1093/jisesa/iey020
Published inJournal of Insect Science
© the Authors, 2018. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License.
Many animals protect themselves from predation with chemicals, both self-made or sequestered from their diet. The potential drivers of the diversity of these chemicals have been long studied, but our knowledge of these chemicals and their acquisition mode is heavily based on specialist herbivores that sequester their defenses. The wood tiger moth (Arctia plantaginis, Linnaeus, 1758) is a well-studied aposematic species, but the nature of its chemical defenses has not been fully described . Here, we report the presence of two methoxypyrazines, 2-sec-butyl-3-methoxypyrazine and 2-isobutyl-3-methoxypyrazine, in the moths’ defensive secretions. By raising larvae on an artificial diet, we confirm, for the first time, that their defensive compounds are produced de novo rather than sequestered from their diet. Pyrazines are known for their defensive function in invertebrates due to their distinctive odor, inducing aversion and facilitating predator learning. While their synthesis has been suspected, it has never previously been experimentally confirmed. Our results highlight the importance of considering de novo synthesis, in addition to sequestration, when studying the defensive capabilities of insects and other invertebrates. ...