Larvae of several species of Lepidoptera produce fatty acid amide elicitors that induce the plants on which they feed to synthesize and release volatile organic compounds. The volatiles released by the plants act as cues that aid in host location by natural enemies of the herbivorous larvae. The elicitors are synthesized in the larvae by enzymes embedded in the membranes of the crop and anterior midgut tissues. The fatty acid precursors of the elicitors are obtained from the plants on which the caterpillars feed, while the amino acid moieties appear to be obtained from pools within the insects. The fatty acid amide elicitors are rapidly hydrolyzed in the midgut and hindgut by enzymes in the gut lumen. The role of these fatty acid amides in caterpillar metabolism is not yet understood.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science