Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 25, Issue 10, pp 2255–2265 | Cite as

Chemical Defenses Against Fish Predation in Three Brazilian Octocorals: 11β,12β-Epoxypukalide as a Feeding Deterrent in Phyllogorgia dilatata

  • Rosângela De A. Epifanio
  • Danielle L. Martins
  • Roberto Villaça
  • Rebecca Gabriel


The feeding-deterrence properties of crude extracts of three Brazilian octocoral species, Neospongodes atlantica Kükenthal (Alcyonacea, Nephtheidae), Plexaurella regia Castro (Gorgonacea, Plexauridae), and Phyllogorgia dilatata Esper (Gorgonacea, Gorgoniidae), were investigated. All the extracts were incorporated into food strips at the concentrations occurring in the living organisms. Crude extract and its ethyl acetate fraction obtained from P. dilatata collected in Armação dos Búzios (Rio de Janeiro State), when incorporated into artificial diets and tested in the habitat of origin, reduced consumption of food strips by fishes, relative to controls. Crude extracts from two octocoral species collected at the National Marine Park of Abrolhos (Bahia State), N. atlantica and P. regia, had no apparent feeding-deterrence properties; in fact, they seemed to stimulate feeding. Bioassay-guided fractionation of the bioactive P. dilatata crude extract revealed that the deterrent property was restricted to a medium polarity fraction. Field palatability experiments with two pure compounds isolated from this fraction revealed that the furanocembranolide 11β,12β-epoxypukalide is a potent feeding deterrent produced by P. dilatata against fish. Apparently, furanocembranolides are a particular class of compounds with feeding deterrent properties, protecting some octocorals from potential fish predator species in both tropical and temperate environments.

Phyllogorgia dilatata Neospongodes atlantica Plexaurella regia Octocorallia chemical ecology feeding deterrent field palatability assay epoxypukalide southwest Atlantic Brazil 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosângela De A. Epifanio
    • 1
  • Danielle L. Martins
    • 1
    • 4
  • Roberto Villaça
    • 2
  • Rebecca Gabriel
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de Química OrgânicaInstituto de Química, Universidade Federal FluminenseNiterói, RJBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia MarinhaInstituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal FluminenseNiterói, RJBrazil
  3. 3.Núcleo de Pesquisas de Produtos NaturaisUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de Janeiro, RJBrazil
  4. 4.This work is part of D. L. M. MS thesis at Organic Chemistry DepartmentUFF

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