Potential Pharmaceuticals from Insects and Their Co-Occurring Microorganisms

  • Konrad DettnerEmail author
Part of the Biologically-Inspired Systems book series (BISY, volume 2)


Because of their enormous species diversity insects represent an interesting and promising source for low molecular biologically active natural products which either are de novo synthesized by the insect or by associated microorganisms. Many of the structures show that potential pharmaceuticals can be found which may be used for human and veterinary medicine. Concerning the toxic terpene anhydride cantharidin it is demonstrated that synthetically obtained low toxic analogues may be suitable for use as pharmaceuticals or in other contexts. In addition low molecular compounds from insect-derived microorganisms are compiled according to the taxonomy, this means the order of the host insects as far as these compounds are of pharmaceutical interest. Remarkably various compounds have also been described from other non-insect sources. It is shown that only a few natural products, such as pederin, result from a true symbiotic interaction between host insect and bacteria. In most other cases the presented metabolites from insect-derived microorganisms are produced in the lab and it has to be clarified whether they are even produced within the host insect.


Secondary compounds Cantharidin Insect-symbionts Symbiotic fungi and bacteria Insects Bioprospecting Pharmaceuticals 



The help of E. Helldörfer (Bayreuth) and S. Wagner (Bayreuth) in preparing the manuscript is gratefully acknowledged. Moreover, I am thankful to W. Boland (Jena), H. P. Fiedler (Tübingen), W. Francke (Hamburg), K. Gebhardt. (Tübingen), H. G. Kallenborn (Saarbrücken), P. Krastel (Göttingen), J. Rheinheimer (Ludwigshafen), A. Zeeck (Göttingen) for fruitful cooperation in the field of insect microorganisms and chemical analysis. Finally, I especially thank A. Vilcinskas (Gießen) for fruitful discussions and his help. Moreover, I am thankful to an anonymous reviewer for improving this manuscript version.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Ecology IIUniversity BayreuthBayreuthGermany

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