Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 1403–1415

A Role for Isothiocyanates in Plant Resistance Against the Specialist Herbivore Pieris rapae


DOI: 10.1023/A:1024265420375

Cite this article as:
Agrawal, A.A. & Kurashige, N.S. J Chem Ecol (2003) 29: 1403. doi:10.1023/A:1024265420375


We experimentally reanalyzed the classic interaction between Pieris rapae, a specialist lepidopteran herbivore, and isothiocyanates (mustard oils) that are characteristic phytochemicals of the Brassicaceae. Previous investigations have suggested that P. rapae is unaffected by isothiocyanates. Using whole plants, root extracts, and a microencapsulated formulation of allyl isothiocyanate, we now show that isothiocyanates reduce herbivore survival and growth, and increase development time, each in a dose-dependent manner. Neither the substrate allyl glucosinolate, nor myrosinase, the enzyme that results in the breakdown of glucosinolates, negatively affected P. rapae. Thus, we present strong evidence for a role for isothiocyanates in plant resistance against the specialist herbivore P. rapae.

Arabidopsis lyrataBrassica sppBrassicaceaeglucosinolatesherbivoryhorseradishhost range evolutioninduced plant resistancemicroencapsulationmyrosinaseplant–insect interactions

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada