Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 1171–1187

Sequestration of cardenolides inOncopeltus fasciatus: Morphological and physiological adaptations

  • G. G. E. Scudder
  • L. V. Moore
  • M. B. Isman

DOI: 10.1007/BF01639003

Cite this article as:
Scudder, G.G.E., Moore, L.V. & Isman, M.B. J Chem Ecol (1986) 12: 1171. doi:10.1007/BF01639003


The morphological and physiological adaptations associated with sequestration of cardenolides by the lygaeidOncopeltus fasciatus are summarized and discussed. Cardenolides are efficiently accumulated inO. fasciatus; however, the insect does not appear to suffer any physiological cost as a result of handling large amounts of these plant toxins. Morphological adaptations of the insect include a modified integument composed of a double layered epidermis with an inner layer (the dorsolateral space) specialized for cardenolide storage. Special weak areas of the cuticle are found on both the thorax and abdomen, which rupture when the insect is squeezed, resulting in the cardenolide-rich contents of the inner epidermal layer being released onto the body surface in the form of discrete spherical droplets. Physiological adaptations include selective sequestration of food plant cardenolides, concentration of cardenolides in the dorsolateral space, passive uptake of cardenolides at the gut and dorsolateral space requiring little energy output, reabsorption of secreted cardenolides by the Malpighian tubules, high in vivo tolerance to cardenolides, and the presence of cardenolide-resistant Na,K-ATPases.

Key words

Hemiptera Heteroptera Lygaeidae Oncopeltus fasciatus Asclepiadaceae cardenolides sequestration morphological adaptations physiological adaptations 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. G. E. Scudder
    • 1
  • L. V. Moore
    • 1
  • M. B. Isman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Plant ScienceUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations