Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 170, Issue 3, pp 185–192 | Cite as

Plant secondary metabolites as mammalian feeding deterrents: separating the effects of the taste of salicin from its post-ingestive consequences in the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

  • G. J. Pass
  • W. J. Foley
ORIGINAL PAPER

Abstract

The effect of the phenolic glycoside, salicin, on food intake of the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) was studied in a series of feeding experiments. Increasing the concentration of salicin in a diet of fruits and cereals led to significant reductions of food intake in the short term (6 days). After prolonged (20 days) exposure to salicin, food intake (19 g kg−0.75 day−1) was still reduced relative to controls (31 g kg−0.75 day−1) but not reduced to the same extent as in the short-term experiments. Nonetheless, over these 20 days, common brushtail possums regulated their intake of salicin so as not to exceed a threshold limit of 1.9 ± 0.1 g kg−0.75 day−1. Manipulative experiments sought to determine whether this threshold intake was in response to pre-ingestive factors (taste) or the post-ingestive consequences of ingesting salicin. Dietary salicin (0.17–5.0% DM) had no significant effect on nitrogen balance or urea metabolism and injection of a specific serotonin receptor antagonist, ondansetron, did not lead to increases in salicin intake as has been found for some other plant secondary metabolites. Similarly, administration of 1.3 g salicin by gavage had no significant effect on the subsequent intake of salicin compared to controls that were gavaged with water. We concluded that pre-ingestive factors were responsible for common brushtail possums limiting their intake of salicin-rich diets rather than any measurable post-ingestive consequence of feeding.

Key words Phenolic glycoside Jensenone Antifeedant Marsupial Detoxification 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. J. Pass
    • 1
  • W. J. Foley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Tropical Ecology, James Cook University, Townsville 4811, AustraliaAU

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