Faculté des sciences

Biochemical strategy of sequestration of pyrrolizidine alkaloids by adults and larvae of chrysomelid leaf beetles

Hartmann, Thomas ; Theuring, Claudine ; Schmidt, Jürgen ; Rahier, Martine ; Pasteels, Jacques M.

In: Journal of Insect Physiology, 1999, vol. 45, no. 12, p. 1085-1095

Tracer feeding experiments with 14C-labeled senecionine and senecionine N-oxide were carried out to identify the biochemical mechanisms of pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration in the alkaloid-adapted leaf beetle Oreina cacaliae (Chrysomelidae). The taxonomically closely related mint beetle (Chrysolina coerulans) which in its life history never faces pyrrolizidine... Plus

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    Summary
    Tracer feeding experiments with 14C-labeled senecionine and senecionine N-oxide were carried out to identify the biochemical mechanisms of pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration in the alkaloid-adapted leaf beetle Oreina cacaliae (Chrysomelidae). The taxonomically closely related mint beetle (Chrysolina coerulans) which in its life history never faces pyrrolizidine alkaloids was chosen as a ‘biochemically naive’ control. In C. coerulans ingestion of the two tracers resulted in a transient occurrence of low levels of radioactivity in the hemolymph (1–5% of radioactivity fed). With both tracers, up to 90% of the radioactivity recovered from the hemolymph was senecionine. This indicates reduction of the alkaloid N-oxide in the gut. Adults and larvae of O. cacaliae sequester ingested senecionine N-oxide almost unchanged in their bodies (up to 95% of sequestered total radioactivity), whereas the tertiary alkaloid is converted into a polar metabolite (up to 90% of total sequestered radioactivity). This polar metabolite, which accumulates in the hemolymph and body, was identified by LC/MS analysis as an alkaloid glycoside, most likely senecionine O-glucoside. The following mechanism of alkaloid sequestration in O. cacaliae is suggested to have developed during the evolutionary adaptation of O. cacaliae to its alkaloid containing host plant: (i) suppression of the gut specific reduction of the alkaloid N-oxides, (ii) efficient uptake of the alkaloid N-oxides, and (iii) detoxification of the tertiary alkaloids by O-glucosylation. The biochemical mechanisms of sequestration of pyrrolizidine alkaloid N-oxides in Chysomelidae leaf beetles and Lepidoptera are compared with respect to toxicity, safe storage and defensive role of the alkaloids.