Determination of Cotton as a Larval Feeding Source for Lepidopteran Moths Using a Derivative from Cotton Metabolites as a Marker by LC-MS/MS Method


Determination of the feeding history of polyphagous insect pests, such as noctuid moths (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), is a critical element in developing population and resistance management strategies for such pests. To identify reliable markers for larval host plant determination and to develop simple extraction and detection methods, a metabolomics approach was implemented after acid hydrolysis of adult moth samples. We identified a derivative from cotton metabolites as a marker in adult moths that were fed cotton tissues as a larval diet, and we propose that the marker is tricycloheliocide H4 based on NMR and mass fragmentation analysis. Using this derivative from cotton metabolites as a marker, a targeted LC-MS/MS method reliably identified cotton as a larval diet in extracts of three noctuid moth species: Helicoverpa zea (cotton bollworm), Chloridea (Heliothis) virescens (tobacco budworm) and Chrysodeixis includens (soybean looper). We are using similar approaches to identify markers for other host plants including soybean.

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All data were captured within the manuscript with supplementary materials.


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We appreciate an early effort on structure elucidation by Lloyd Sumner (University of Missouri), Martin Ruebelt and Bosong Xiang (Bayer US Crop Science), and insect rearing by the Plant Biotech Entomology group (Bayer US Crop Science). We also are grateful to Paula Price and Ben Yorke for reviewing the manuscript.


All authors were employees of Bayer Crop Science, and the work was funded by Bayer Crop Science.

Author information




Jae Hak Kim and Graham Head designed and coordinated the project. Jae Hak Kim, Andreas Lagojda, Dieudonné Tshitenge Tshitenge, Daniel P. Walker, Graham Head wrote the manuscript. Jae Hak Kim performed metabolomics and LC-MS work while Andreas Lagojda, Dirk Kuehne and Dieudonné Tshitenge Tshitenge generated and interpreted NMR data and structure elucidation. Swapan Chaudhuri and Daniel P. Walker contributed to the interpretation of NMR data and a mechanism of the marker production.

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Correspondence to Jae Hak Kim.

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Kim, J.H., Lagojda, A., Kuehne, D. et al. Determination of Cotton as a Larval Feeding Source for Lepidopteran Moths Using a Derivative from Cotton Metabolites as a Marker by LC-MS/MS Method. J Chem Ecol (2020).

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  • Moths
  • Heliocides
  • Cotton
  • LC-MS/MS
  • NMR
  • Metabolomics