Different phagostimulants in potato foliage for Manduca sexta and Leptinotarsa decemlineata
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In the past decades, several studies have focused on the identification of feeding stimulants for specialists that feed on solanaceous plants, especially potato (Solanum tuberosum). In the 1950's, a phagostimulant was isolated from potato and tomato for Manduca sexta and characterised as a glycoside. It was suggested that the phagostimulant for M. sexta and Leptinotarsa decemlineata is identical. We tested whether these insects indeed share the same recognition factor. Previous bioassays for L. decemlineata larvae and adults were found to be unsatisfactory, so a new assay system was developed, using starch and wheat flour-based wafers as a neutral substrate. An aqueous extract of potato foliage that was highly active as a stimulant was fractionated by reverse phase medium pressure liquid chromatography (MPLC). Both insects were stimulated by a MPLC fraction that eluted with 25% methanol in water. Further separation of this and the following fraction (35% methanol, stimulatory for the beetle only) by semi-preparative high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), using gradients of water and acetonitrile, resulted in the isolation of two distinct fractions that stimulated feeding by L. decemlineata. None of the HPLC fractions was active for M. sexta. However, fractions of the flash chromatography with less polarity (45–75% methanol) had a stimulatory effect only on M. sexta. Thus, the two insects do not use a common feeding stimulant, and for both at least two compounds of different polarity are active.
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