CHEMOECOLOGY

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 211–216 | Cite as

Chemical defense of the mint plant, Teucrium marum (Labiatae)

  • Thomas Eisner
  • Maria Eisner
  • Daniel J. Aneshansley
  • Chia-Li Wu
  • Jerrold Meinwald

Summary.

The mint plant, Teucrium marum (family Labiatae), sometimes called cat thyme, contains two methylcyclopentanoid monoterpenes, dolichodial and teucrein. The former compound is potently anti-insectan. It is repellent to ants (Monomorium pharaonis) and induces preening reflexes in flies (Phormia regina) and cockroaches (Periplaneta americana). Evidence is presented suggesting that dolichodial, which is presumed to be the plant's chief defensive agent, is stored in the tiny epidermal capsules that beset the leaves. It is only when the leaves are injured (and the capsules ruptured) that the leaves become repellent. Teucrein, in contrast, has no anti-insectan potency. It is present predominantly in the leaf buds, unlike dolichodial, which is present mostly in mature leaves. It is argued that teucrein is the storage compound from which dolichodial is generated during leaf development.

Key words. Chemical defense – insect repellent – terpenes – dolichodial – teucrein – Labiatae –Teucrium 

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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel, 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Eisner
    • 1
  • Maria Eisner
    • 1
  • Daniel J. Aneshansley
    • 2
  • Chia-Li Wu
    • 3
  • Jerrold Meinwald
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, W347 Seeley G. Mudd Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA, e-mail: te14@cornell.eduUS
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Riley-Robb Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA, e-mail: dja4@cornell.eduUS
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Baker Laboratory, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA, e-mail: circe@cornell.eduUS
  4. 4.Current address: Department of Chemistry, Tamkang University, Tamsui, Taiwan 251, Republic of ChinaTW

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