Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 8, pp 1598–1606

Deterrence and Toxicity of Plant Saponins for the Pea Aphid Acyrthosiphon Pisum Harris



Plant saponins are widely distributed among plants and have a wide range of biological properties. Three alfalfa saponins—zanhic acid tridesmoside, 3GlcA, 28AraRhaXyl medicagenic acid glycoside, and 3GlcA, 28AraRha medicagenic acid glycoside—were tested for their settling inhibition effects on feeding behavior of the aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum using the electrical penetration graph method. Application of saponins to artificial diets affected the insects’ probing behavior. In general, saponins incorporated into sucrose–agarose gels significantly reduced the number of aphid probes and extended their duration. Lower saponin concentrations (50 ppm) extended aphid activity and corresponded to phloem sap ingestion. In contrast, higher concentrations (100 ppm) strongly reduced aphid ability to ingest phloem and xylem sap.


Insect feeding EPG Pea aphid Sucrose–agarose gels Saponins 


  1. Adel, M. M., Sehnal, F., and Jurzysta, M. 2000. Effects of alfalfa saponins on the moth Spodoptera littoralis. J. Chem. Ecol. 26:1065–1078.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agrell, J., Oleszek, W., Stochma,L. A., Olsen, M., and Anderson, P. 2003. Herbivore-induced responses in alfalfa (Medicago sativa). J. Chem. Ecol. 29:303–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Applebaum, S. W., Marco, S., and Birk, Y. 1969. Saponins as possible factors of resistance of legume seeds to the attack of insects. Agric. Food Chem. 17:618–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Argandona, V. H., Corcuera, L. J., Niemeyer, H. M., and Campbell, B. C. 1983. Toxicity and feeding deterrency of hydroxamic acids from Graminae in synthetic diets against the greenbug, Schizaphis graminum. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 34:134–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berenbaum, M. R. 1985. Synergistic action among allelochemicals in crop plants. Abstracts of the 190th Association Natural Meeting, Chicago, 8–13 September, 75 pp.Google Scholar
  6. Bondi, A., and Birk, Y. 1968. Investigation and biological studies of the saponins of alfalfa to provide information basic to optimal utilization of alfalfa meal. Annual report of research, Hebrew University, Faculty of Agriculture, Rehovot, Israel. 31 pp.Google Scholar
  7. Bruneton, J. 1995. Pharmacognosy, phytochemistry, medicinal plants. Lavoisier Publishing, Paris, pp 538–544.Google Scholar
  8. Felton, G. W., and Gatehouse, J. A. 1996. Antinutritive plant defense mechanisms, pp. 373–416, in M. J. Lehane and P. F. Billingsley (eds.). Biology of the Insects Midgut. Chapman & Hall, London, England.Google Scholar
  9. Golawska, S., Leszczynski, B., and Oleszek, W. 2006. Effect of low and high-saponin lines of alfalfa on pea aphid. J. Insect Physiol. 52:737–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Golawska, S., Leszczynski, B., and Staszewski, Z. 2005. Saponins as a source of alfalfa resistance towards pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum Harris, pp. 45–50, in A. Nicholas, E. Birch and B. Leszczynski (eds.). Breeding for Resistance to Pests and Diseases. IOBC, Bialowieza, Poland.Google Scholar
  11. Herlt, A. J., Mander, L. N., Pongoh, E., Rumampuk, R. J., and Tarigan, P. 2002. Two major saponins from seeds of Barringtonia asiatica: putative antifeedants toward Epilachna sp. larvae. J. Nat. Prod. 65:115–120.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Horber, E. 1972. Alfalfa saponins significant in resistance to insect, pp. 611–628, in J. G. Rodriguez (ed.). Insect and Nutrition. Amsterdam, North Holland.Google Scholar
  13. Horber, E., Leath, K. T., Berrang, B., Marcarian, V., and Hanson, C. H. 1974. Biological activities of saponin components from DuPuits and Lahontan alfalfa. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 17:410–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hubrecht, F., Delaude, C., Gilson, J. C., and Gaspar, C. 1989. Activité de plusieurs extraites de plantes originaires du Zaire á l´egard de Spodoptera frugiperda J.E. Smith. Med. Fac. Landbouww. Rijksuniv. Gent 54/3a:937–944.Google Scholar
  15. Ishaaya, I., and Birk, Y. 1965. Soybean saponins IV. The effect of proteins on the inhibitory activity of soybean saponins on certain enzymes. J. Food Sci. 30:118–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ishaaya, I., Birk, Y., Bondi, A., and Tencer, Y. 1969. Soybean saponins IX. Studies of their effects on birds, mammals and cold-blooded organisms. J. Sci. Food Agric. 20:433–436.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jain, C., and Tripathi, A.K. 1991. Insect feeding-deterrent activity of some saponin glycosides. Phytother Res. 5:139–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Leszczynski, B., Jozwiak, B., Urbanska, A., and Dixon, A. F. G. 2003. Does cyanogenesis influence host alternation of bird cherry-oat aphid? EJPAU
  19. Leszczynski, B., Wright, L. C., and Bakowski, T. 1989. Effect of secondary plant substances on winter wheat resistance to grain aphid. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 52:135–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Majak, W., Fesser, A. C., Goplen, B. P., and Pedersen, M. W. 1980. Relationships between ruminant bloat and composition of alfalfa herbage. II. Saponins. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 60:699–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Meisner, J., and Mitchell, B. K. 1983. Phagodeterrency induced by two cruciferous plants in adults of the flea beetle, Phyllotreta striolata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Can. Entomol. 115:1209–1214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nozzolillo, C., Arnason, J. T., Campos, F., Donskov, N., and Jurzysta, M. 1997. Alfalfa leaf saponins and insects resistance. J. Chem. Ecol. 23:995–1002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Oleszek, W. 2002. Chromatographic determination of plant saponins. J. Chromatogr. A. 967:147–162.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Oleszek, W., Jurzysta, M., Płoszyński, M., Colquhoun, I. A., Price, K. R., and Fenwick, G. R. 1992. Zanhic acid tridesmoside and other dominant saponins from alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) aerial parts. J. Agric. Food Chem. 40:191–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Oleszek, W., Price, K. R., Colquhoun, I. J., Jurzysta, M., Płoszyński, M., and Fenwick, G. R. 1990. Isolation and identification of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) root saponins: Their activity in relation to a fungal bioassay. J. Agric. Food Chem. 38:1810–1817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Osbourn, A. E. 2003. Molecules of interest, saponins in cereals. Phytochemistry 62:1–4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pecetti, L., Tava, A., Romani, M., De Benedetto, M. G., and Corsi, P. 2006. Variety and environment on the dynamics of saponins in lucerne (Medicago sativa L.). Europ. J. Agronomy 25:187–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pedersen, M. W., Barnes, D. K., Sorensen, E. L., Griffen, G. D., Nielson, M. W., Hill, R. R., Frosheiser, F. I., and Sonoda, R. M. 1976. Effects of low and high saponin selection in alfalfa on agronomic and pest resistance traits and the interrelationship of these traits. Crop. Sci. 16:193–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pedersen, M. W., and Wang, L. 1971. Modification of saponin content of alfalfa through selection. Crop Sci. 11:833–835.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Potter, S. M., and Kimmerer, T. W. 1989. Inhibition of herbivory on young holly leaves: Evidence of defensive role of saponins. Oecologia 78:322–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ridsdill-Smith, J., Edwards, O., Wang, S. F., Ghisalberti, E., and Reidy-Crofts J. 2004. Aphid response to plant defensive compounds, pp. 491–497, in. J. C Simon, C. A. Dedryver, C. Rispe and M. Hulle (eds.). Aphid in a New Millenium. INRA, Paris, France.Google Scholar
  32. Shany, S., Gestetner, B., Birk, Y., and Bondi, A. 1970. Lucerne saponins III. Effect of lucerne saponins on larval growth and their detoxification by various sterols. J. Sci. Food Agric. 21:508–510.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sparg, S. G., Light, M. E., and Van Staden, J. 2004. Biological activities and distribution of plant saponins. J. Ethnopharmacology 94:219–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Staszewski, Z., Jakubowska, B., and Jurzysta, M. 1994. Selection the low saponin population from lucerne cv. Radius, pp. 261–264, in D. Reheul and A. Ghesquiere (eds.). Breeding for Quality. EUCARPIA, Brugge, Belgium.Google Scholar
  35. Sutherland, O. R. W., Hatchins, R. F. N., and Greenfield, W. J. 1982. Effect of lucerne saponins and Lotus condensed tannins on survival of grass grub, Castelitra zealandica. N. Z. J. Zool. 9:511–514.Google Scholar
  36. Sutherland, O. R. W., Hood, N. D., and Hillier, J. R. 1975a. Lucerne root saponins a feeding deterrent for the grass grub, Costelytra zealandica (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae). N. Z. J. Zool. 2:93–100.Google Scholar
  37. Sutherland, O. R. W., Mann, J., and Hillier, J. R. 1975b. Feeding deterrents for the grass grub Costelytra zealandica (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) in the root of a resistant pasture plant, Lotus pedunculatus. N. Z. J. Zool. 2:509–512.Google Scholar
  38. Szynkarczyk, S., Leszczynski, B., Markowski, J., and Matok, H. 2000. Feeding behaviour of pea aphid on alfalfa. Abst. XXI Int. Cong. Entomol., Foz do Iguassu, Brazil, p 186.Google Scholar
  39. Szynkarczyk, S., Leszczynski, B., Oleszek, W., and Staszewski, Z. 2001. Development of pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris) on alfalfa lines varied in saponin content, pp. 121–130, in E. Cichocka, W. Goszczynski, B. Leszczynski, M. Ruszkowska and W. Wojciechowski (eds.). Aphids and Other Homopterous Insects. PAS, Siedlce, Poland.Google Scholar
  40. Thorp, R. W., and Briggs, D. L. 1972. Mortality in immature leafcutter bees in relation to alfalfa saponins. Environ. Entomol. 1:399–401.Google Scholar
  41. Tjallingii, W. F. 1990. Continuous recording of stylet penetration activities by aphids, pp. 88–89, in R. K. Campbell and R. D. Eikenbary (eds.). Aphid–Plant Genotype Interactions. Elsevier, Amsterdam.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyUniversity of PodlasieSiedlcePoland

Personalised recommendations