Lack of sequestration of host plant glucosinolates in Pieris rapae and P. grarricae
- Cite this article as:
- Müller, C., Agerbirk, N. & Erik Olsen, C. Chemoecology (2003) 13: 47. doi:10.1007/s000490300005
Sequestration of plant toxins in herbivores is often correlated with aposematic coloration and gregarious behaviour. Larvae of Pieris brassicae show these conspicuous morphological and behavioural characteristics and were thus suggested to sequester glucosinolates that are characteristic secondary metabolites of their host plants. P. rapaeare camouflaged and solitary, and are thus not expected to sequester. To test this hypothesis and to check the repeatabi-lity of a study that did report the presence of the glucosinolate sinigrin in P. brassicae, larvae were reared on three species of Brassicaceae (Sinapis alba, Brassica nigra and Barbarea stricta), and different leaf and insect samples were taken for glucosinolate analysis. The major host plant glucosinolates could only be found in traces or not at all in larval haemolymph, bled or starved larvae, faeces or pupae of both species or P. brassicae regurgitant. Haemolymph of both Pieris spp. was not rejected by the ant Myrmica rubra in dual-choice assays; the regurgitant of P. brassicae was rejected. This suggests the presence of compounds other than glucosinolates that might be sequestered in or produced by P. brassicae only. In faeces of both Pieris spp. a compound which yielded 4-hydroxybenzylcyanide (HBC) upon incubation with sulfatase was detected in high concentrations when larvae had been reared on S. alba. This compound may be derived from hydrolysis of sinalbin, the main glucosinolate of that plant. The unidentified HBC progenitor was apparently not sequestered in the two Pieris spp., and was not detected in faeces of larvae reared on B. nigra or B. stricta.