Differing patterns of sequestration of iridoid glycosides in the Mecininae (Coleoptera, Curculionidae)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Authors:C. Ulrich Baden, Franke, S., Dobler, S.
Date Published:Jun

We analyzed several species of the weevil family Mecininae (Coleoptera, Curculionidae) that all feed on iridoid glycoside (IG) containing plants of the Plantaginaceae to investigate whether the beetles sequester these deterrent substances from their host plants. Within the Mecininae two genera of the tribe Cionini were found to sequester aucubin and catalpol: Cionus Clairville and Schellenberg and Cleopus Dejean. Both analyzed genera of the Mecinini, Mecinus Germar and Rhinusa Stephens, do not sequester IGs although the compounds are present in their food plants. They thus represent the first case of specialists on IG plants that have not evolved adaptations to use the compounds. However, in contrast to the Cionini these genera have a hidden lifestyle, so that their need for defence might be lower. Both Cionus and Cleopus, sequester catalpol with a higher efficiency than aucubin. However, in contrast to Cionus species, Cleopus species only sequester catalpol. In species feeding on Scrophularia, the aucubin concentration is higher while in beetles on Verbascum catalpol is usually dominating. This pattern can also be detected in the only species living on both plants, Cionus hortulanus. The ability to sequester IGs must have a single origin at the base of the sister genera Cionus and Cleopus.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith