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Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 27, Issue 11, pp 2287–2299 | Cite as

Chemical Defenses of the Sacoglossan Mollusk Elysia rufescens and Its Host Alga Bryopsis sp.

  • Mikel A. Becerro
  • Gilles Goetz
  • Valerie J. Paul
  • Paul J. Scheuer
Article

Abstract

Sacoglossans are a group of opisthobranch mollusks that have been the source of numerous secondary metabolites; however, there are few examples where a defensive ecological role for these compounds has been demonstrated experimentally. We investigated the deterrent properties of the sacoglossan Elysia rufescens and its food alga Bryopsis sp. against natural fish predators. Bryopsis sp. produces kahalalide F, a major depsipeptide that is accumulated by the sacoglossan and that shows in vitro cytotoxicity against several cancer cell lines. Our data show that both Bryopsis sp. and Elysia rufescens are chemically protected against fish predators, as indicated by the deterrent properties of their extracts at naturally occurring concentrations. Following bioassay-guided fractionation, we observed that the antipredatory compounds of Bryopsis sp. were present in the butanol and chloroform fractions, both containing the depsipeptide kahalalide F. Antipredatory compounds of Elysia rufescens were exclusively present in the dichloromethane fraction. Further bioassay-guided fractionation led to the isolation of kahalalide F as the only compound responsible for the deterrent properties of the sacoglossan. Our data show that kahalalide F protects both Bryopsis sp. and Elysia rufescens from fish predation. This is the first report of a diet-derived depsipeptide used as a chemical defense in a sacoglossan.

Antipredatory role herbivore–prey relationship depsipeptides kahalalide F sacoglossan mollusks green algae Elysia rufescens Bryopsis sp. 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikel A. Becerro
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gilles Goetz
    • 1
  • Valerie J. Paul
    • 2
  • Paul J. Scheuer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonolulu
  2. 2.University of Guam Marine LaboratoryMangilaoGuam

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