Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 13, Issue 10, pp 2009–2022

Interactions of alkaloids with galeal chemosensory cells of colorado potato beetle

  • B. K. Mitchell

DOI: 10.1007/BF01041728

Cite this article as:
Mitchell, B.K. J Chem Ecol (1987) 13: 2009. doi:10.1007/BF01041728


The galeal chemosensory system of the adult Colorado potato beetle was used as a model to study the effects of alkaloids on insect gustation. Nine alkaloids, representing a wide range of structural types, were used. Their ability to stimulate chemosensory cells when presented in isolation and their ability to interfere with normal chemosensory processes were emphasized. None of the alkaloids stimulated chemosensory cells in a dose-dependent manner, although a few stimulated low-level activity from some cells. There was no evidence for a general “deterrent receptor” in these beetles. Some of the alkaloids had a marked inhibitory effect on normal chemosensory responses. Tomatine, solanine, papaverine, and sparteine significantly inhibited responses to amino acids (represented by GABA) while quinine and papaverine inhibited responses to sucrose. An attempt was made to correlate neurophysiological action of some alkaloids with their effects on feeding behavior. It was clear from this correlation that even a dramatic inhibition of sensory input by an alkaloid does not necessarily lead to measurable effects on behavior. The results are discussed in the context of current theories on the mode of action of alkaloids and other secondary plant compounds which may be involved in host recognition by phytophagous insects.

Key words

Leptinotarsa decemlineata Coleoptera Chrysomelidae Colorado potato beetle deterrent receptor feeding deterrents alkaloids sugar receptor amino acid receptor chemoreception steroidal alkaloids antifeedants 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. K. Mitchell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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