Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp 2019–2029 | Cite as

Chemical ecology of the luna moth

Effects of host plant on detoxification enzyme activity
  • Richard L. Lindroth


The effects of food plant on larval performance and midgut detoxification enzymes were investigated in larvae of the luna moth,Actias luna. Neonate larvae were fed leaves of black cherry, cottonwood, quaking aspen, white willow, red oak, white oak, tulip tree, paper birch, black walnut, butternut, or shagbark hickory. First instar survival, larval duration, and pupal weights were monitored as indices of food quality. Midgut enzyme preparations from fifth instars were assayed for β-glucosidase, quinone reductase, polysubstrate monooxygenase, esterase, and glutathione transferase activities. Larval survival on seven of the 11 plant species, including several recorded host plants, was extremely poor. Larvae performed well, and quite similarly, on birch, walnut, butternut, and hickory. Activities of all enzyme systems except β-glucosidase were significantly influenced by larval host plant. Of the systems assayed, quinone reductase and glutathione transferase activities were especially high. Comparisons of these values with published values for other Lepidoptera support the hypothesis that these enzyme systems are involved in conferring tolerance to juglone and related quinones occurring in members of the plant family Juglandaceae. Results suggest that host plant utilization by luna is more specialized at the individual or population level than at the species level and that biochemical detoxification systems may play a role in such specialization.

Key words

Actias luna Lepidoptera Saturniidae detoxification enzymes enzyme induction glutathione transferase Juglandaceae juglone nutritional ecology plant-insect interactions quinone reductase 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard L. Lindroth
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of WisconsinMadison

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