Toxicity of nonhost phototoxins to parsnip webworms (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae)

May R. Berenbaum, Keywan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The parsnip webworm, Depressaria pastinacella (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae), feeds exclusively on apiaceous hostplants containing furanocoumarins, compounds capable of oxygen-dependent and oxygen-independend photosensitization. Despite high titers of antioxidant enzymes relative to other herbivorous insects, webworms cannot tolerate nonhost photosensitizers such as alpha-terthienyl or beta-carboline alkaloids at dietary concentrations of 0.01% or less. Tolerance of skimmianine, a furano-quinoline alkaloid, may be due to its structural resemblance to furanocoumarins, which are metabolized by cytochrome P450 monooxygenases in this species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-85
Number of pages5
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 1990


  • Depressaria pastinacella
  • Lepidoptera
  • Oecophoridae
  • alpha-terthienyl
  • harmalol
  • harmane
  • harmine
  • parsnip webworm
  • phototoxicity
  • skimmianine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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