Issue 5, 2017

Contact chemosensation of phytochemicals by insect herbivores


Contact chemosensation, or tasting, is a complex process governed by nonvolatile phytochemicals that tell host-seeking insects whether they should accept or reject a plant. During this process, insect gustatory receptors (GRs) contribute to deciphering a host plant's metabolic code. GRs recognise many different classes of nonvolatile compounds; some GRs are likely to be narrowly tuned and others, broadly tuned. Although primary and/or secondary plant metabolites influence the insect's feeding choice, their decoding by GRs is challenging, because metabolites in planta occur in complex mixtures that have additive or inhibitory effects; in diverse forms composed of structurally unrelated molecules; and at different concentrations depending on the plant species, its tissue and developmental stage. Future studies of the mechanism of insect herbivore GRs will benefit from functional characterisation taking into account the spatio-temporal dynamics and diversity of the plant's metabolome. Metabolic information, in turn, will help to elucidate the impact of single ligands and complex natural mixtures on the insect's feeding choice.

Graphical abstract: Contact chemosensation of phytochemicals by insect herbivores

Article information

Article type
09 Jan 2017
First published
09 May 2017
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Nat. Prod. Rep., 2017,34, 478-483

Contact chemosensation of phytochemicals by insect herbivores

S. Pentzold, A. Burse and W. Boland, Nat. Prod. Rep., 2017, 34, 478 DOI: 10.1039/C7NP00002B

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