Oviposition Stimulants for the Tropical Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio polytes, Feeding on a Rutaceous Plant, Toddalia asiatica
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- Nakayama, T., Honda, K., Ômura, H. et al. J Chem Ecol (2003) 29: 1621. doi:10.1023/A:1024274814402
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In nature, Papilio polytes utilizes a limited range of rutaceous plants as hosts. We isolated and identified oviposition stimulants for the butterfly from the foliage of its primary host plant Toddalia asiatica. Females readily deposited eggs in response to a methanolic extract of the plant. Partition of the extract with organic solvents revealed that chemicals responsible for eliciting egg-laying resided in a water-soluble fraction. Further bioassay-guided fractionation of the active fraction by column chromatography, preparative TLC, and HPLC led to the isolation of two oviposition stimulants. One was isolated from an amphoteric fraction and identified as trans-4-hydroxy-N-methyl-L-proline [(−)-(2S,4R)-4-hydroxy-1-methyl pyrrolidine-2-carboxylic acid; HMP]. The other, isolated from an acidic fraction, was identified as 2-C-methyl-D-erythronic acid [(−)-(2R,3R)-2-methyl-2,3,4-trihydroxybutanoic acid; MEA]. HMP alone evoked significant oviposition-stimulatory activity, although this was much lower than that of the original water-soluble fraction. MEA, on the other hand, alone did not elicit positive responses from females. However, HMP, when assayed in combination with MEA, markedly enhanced the female response, and the mixture was as active in stimulating oviposition as were the original water-soluble fraction and the plant foliage. We conclude that HMP is a substance crucial for host recognition by females, while MEA is a synergistic stimulant involved in host recognition and/or preference.