Pinoresinol: A lignol of plant origin serving for defense in a caterpillar

Frank C. Schroeder, Marta L. Del Campo, Jacqueline B. Grant, Douglas B. Weibel, Scott R. Smedley, Kelly L. Bolton, Jerrold Meinwald, Thomas Eisner

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Pinoresinol, a lignan of wide distribution in plants, is found to occur as a minor component in the defensive secretion produced by glandular hairs of caterpillars of the cabbage butterfly, Pieris rapae. The compound or a derivative is appropriated by the larva from its normal food plant (the cabbage, Brassica oleracea). Pinoresinol was shown to be absent from the secretion if the larva was given a cabbage-free diet but present in the effluent if that diet was supplemented with pinoresinol. Pinoresinol is shown to be a feeding deterrent to ants (Formica exsectoides), indicating that it can complement the defensive action of the primary components of the secretion, a set of previously reported lipids called mayolenes. In the test with F. exsectoides, pinoresinol proved to be more potent than concomitantly tested mayolene-16.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15497-15501
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 17 2006


  • Acquired metabolite
  • Chemical defense
  • Insect antifeedant
  • Lepidoptera
  • Sequestration


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