Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 2177–2189

Cyanoglycoside gynocardin fromAcraea horta (L.) (Lepidoptera: Acraeinae)

Possible implications for evolution of acraeine host choice
  • David Raubenheimer

DOI: 10.1007/BF01014108

Cite this article as:
Raubenheimer, D. J Chem Ecol (1989) 15: 2177. doi:10.1007/BF01014108


All stages in the life cycle ofAcraea horta (L.) (Lepidoptera: Acraeinae) were found to release hydrogen cyanide (HCN) from their crushed tissues, and the source of cyanogenesis was present in the hemolymph of adults and larvae. Comparison with standards on thin-layer chromatograms (TLC) revealed the presence in adults of gynocardin, a cyclopentenyl cyanoglycoside also produced by the larval food plant,Kiggelaria africana L. (Flacourtiaceae). Analysis of adults reared on plant species (Passifloraceae) containing gynocardin and/or other cyanoglycosides suggested selective uptake of gynocardin by the larvae. This is the first demonstration of a cyanoglycoside, other than the acyclic linamarin and lotaustralin, occurring in Lepidoptera and the first evidence for the storage byAcraea butterflies of a plant-produced allelochemical. Possible implications for the understanding of the evolution of acraeine host choice are discussed.

Key words

Acraea horta Lepidoptera Acraeinae cyclopentenyl cyanoglycoside gynocardin Kiggelaria africana sequestration evolution 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Raubenheimer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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