Toxicity of a furanocoumarin to armyworms: A case of biosynthetic escape from insect herbivores

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Abstract

When the linear furanocoumarin xanthotoxin, found in many plants of the families Rutaceae and Umbelliferae, was administered to larvae of Spodoptera eridania, a generalist insect herbivore, it displayed toxic properties lacking in its biosynthetic precursor umbelliferone. Reduced toxicity observed in the absence of ultraviolet light is consistent with the known mechanism of photoinactivation of DNA by furanocoumarins through ultraviolet-catalyzed cross-linkage of strands. Thus, the ability of a plant to convert umbelliferone to linear furanocoumarins appears to confer broader protection against insect herbivores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)532-534
Number of pages3
JournalScience
Volume201
Issue number4355
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1978

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