Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 13, Issue 8, pp 1917–1925 | Cite as

Transfer of pyrrolizidine and quinolizidine alkaloids toCastilleja (Scrophulariaceae) hemiparasites from composite and legume host plants

  • Frank R. Stermitz
  • Guy H. Harris


Castilleja (Scrophulariaceae) species of the western United States contain pyrrolizidine and quinolizidine alkaloids. TheCastilleja obtain the alkaloids by root parasitism on host plants, withSenecio atratus andS. triangularis (Asteraceae) furnishing the pyrrolizidines, and quinolizidines being obtained fromLupinus species andThermopsis montana (Leguminosae). Individual plants within a givenCastilleja species population may be devoid of alkaloids while others have high alkaloid content. No populations have been found which are made up of both pyrrolizidine- and quinolizidine-containing individuals. These results have important implications forCastilleja ecology, for the study of insect herbivores which areCastilleja specialists, and in the development of systems for the investigation of the role of alkaloids as plant defenses.

Key words

Castilleja Scrophulariaceae Senecio Asteraceae Lupinus Leguminosae hemiparasites alkaloids plant-insect interactions 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank R. Stermitz
    • 1
  • Guy H. Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryColorado State UniversityFort Collins

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