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


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.

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Received 16 June 2000; accepted 11 August 2000

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Eisner, T., Eisner, M., Aneshansley, D. et al. Chemical defense of the mint plant, Teucrium marum (Labiatae). Chemoecology 10, 211–216 (2000).

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