Caterpillars on a phytochemical landscape: The case of alfalfa and the Melissa blue butterfly.
ABSTRACT: Modern metabolomic approaches that generate more comprehensive phytochemical profiles than were previously available are providing new opportunities for understanding plant-animal interactions. Specifically, we can characterize the phytochemical landscape by asking how a larger number of individual compounds affect herbivores and how compounds covary among plants. Here we use the recent colonization of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) by the Melissa blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa) to investigate the effects of indivdiual compounds and suites of covarying phytochemicals on caterpillar performance. We find that survival, development time, and adult weight are all associated with variation in nutrition and toxicity, including biomolecules associated with plant cell function as well as putative anti-herbivore action. The plant-insect interface is complex, with clusters of covarying compounds in many cases encompassing divergent effects on different aspects of caterpillar performance. Individual compounds with the strongest associations are largely specialized metabolites, including alkaloids, phenolic glycosides, and saponins. The saponins are represented in our data by more than 25 individual compounds with beneficial and detrimental effects on L. melissa caterpillars, which highlights the value of metabolomic data as opposed to approaches that rely on total concentrations within broad defensive classes.
Project description:From the perspective of an herbivorous insect, conspecific host plants are not identical, and intraspecific variation in host nutritional quality or defensive capacity might mediate spatially variable outcomes in plant-insect interactions. Here we explore this possibility in the context of an ongoing host breadth expansion of a native butterfly (the Melissa blue, Lycaeides melissa) onto an exotic host plant (alfalfa, Medicago sativa). We examine variation among seven alfalfa populations that differed in terms of colonization by L. melissa; specifically, we examined variation in phytochemistry, foliar protein, and plant population genetic structure, as well as responses of caterpillars and adult butterflies to foliage from the same populations. Regional patterns of alfalfa colonization by L. melissa were well predicted by phytochemical variation, and colonized patches of alfalfa showed a similar level of inter-individual phytochemical diversity. However, phytochemical variation was a poor predictor of larval performance, despite the fact that survival and weight gain differed dramatically among caterpillars reared on plants from different alfalfa populations. Moreover, we observed a mismatch between alfalfa supporting the best larval performance and alfalfa favored by ovipositing females. Thus, the axes of plant variation that mediate interactions with L. melissa depend upon herbivore life history stage, which raises important issues for our understanding of adaptation to novel resources by an organism with a complex life history.
Project description:Speciation is an important evolutionary process that occurs when barriers to gene flow evolve between previously panmictic populations. Although individual barriers to gene flow have been studied extensively, we know relatively little regarding the number of barriers that isolate species or whether these barriers are polymorphic within species. Herein, we use a series of field and lab experiments to quantify phenotypic divergence and identify possible barriers to gene flow between the butterfly species Lycaeides idas and Lycaeides melissa. We found evidence that L. idas and L. melissa have diverged along multiple phenotypic axes. Specifically, we identified major phenotypic differences in female oviposition preference and diapause initiation, and more moderate divergence in mate preference. Multiple phenotypic differences might operate as barriers to gene flow, as shown by correlations between genetic distance and phenotypic divergence and patterns of phenotypic variation in admixed Lycaeides populations. Although some of these traits differed primarily between species (e.g., diapause initiation), several traits also varied among conspecific populations (e.g., male mate preference and oviposition preference).
Project description:Genomic outcomes of hybridization depend on selection and recombination in hybrids. Whether these processes have similar effects on hybrid genome composition in contemporary hybrid zones versus ancient hybrid lineages is unknown. Here we show that patterns of introgression in a contemporary hybrid zone in Lycaeides butterflies predict patterns of ancestry in geographically adjacent, older hybrid populations. We find a particularly striking lack of ancestry from one of the hybridizing taxa, Lycaeides melissa, on the Z chromosome in both the old and contemporary hybrids. The same pattern of reduced L. melissa ancestry on the Z chromosome is seen in two other ancient hybrid lineages. More generally, we find that patterns of ancestry in old or ancient hybrids are remarkably predictable from contemporary hybrids, which suggests selection and recombination affect hybrid genomes in a similar way across disparate time scales and during distinct stages of speciation and species breakdown.
Project description:Measurements of single-cell methylation are revolutionizing our understanding of epigenetic control of gene expression, yet the intrinsic data sparsity limits the scope for quantitative analysis of such data. Here, we introduce Melissa (MEthyLation Inference for Single cell Analysis), a Bayesian hierarchical method to cluster cells based on local methylation patterns, discovering patterns of epigenetic variability between cells. The clustering also acts as an effective regularization for data imputation on unassayed CpG sites, enabling transfer of information between individual cells. We show both on simulated and real data sets that Melissa provides accurate and biologically meaningful clusterings and state-of-the-art imputation performance.
Project description:Background:Panax ginseng Meyer (Araliaceae) is a highly valued medicinal plant in Asian regions, especially in Korea, China, and Japan. Chemical and biological studies on P. ginseng have focused primarily on its roots, whereas the seeds remain poorly understood. This study explores the phytochemical and biological properties of compounds from P. ginseng seeds. Methods:P. ginseng seeds were extracted with methanol, and 16 compounds were isolated using various chromatographic methods. The chemical structures of the isolates were determined by spectroscopic data. Antiinflammatory activities were evaluated for triterpene and steroidal saponins using lipopolysaccharide-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages and THP-1 monocyte leukemia cells. Results:Phytochemical investigation of P. ginseng seeds led to the isolation of a novel triterpene saponin, pseudoginsenoside RT8, along with 15 known compounds. Pseudoginsenoside RT8 exhibited more potent antiinflammatory activity than the other saponins, attenuating lipopolysaccharide-mediated induction of proinflammatory genes such as interleukin-1?, interleukin-6, inducible nitric oxide synthase, cyclooxygenase-2, and matrix metalloproteinase-9, and suppressed reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide generation in a dose-dependent manner. Conclusion:These findings indicate that pseudoginsenoside RT8 has a pharmaceutical potential as an antiinflammatory agent and that P. ginseng seeds are a good natural source for discovering novel bioactive molecules.
Project description:Diverse mixtures of plant natural products play an important role in plant-herbivore-parasitoid interactions. In the pursuit of understanding these chemically-mediated interactions, we are often faced with the challenge of determining ecologically and biologically relevant compounds present in complex phytochemical mixtures. Using a network-based approach, we analyzed binned 1H-NMR data from 196 prepared mixtures of commonly studied secondary metabolites including alkaloids, amides, terpenes, iridoid glycosides, saponins, phenylpropanoids, flavonoids and phytosterols. The mixtures included multiple dimensions of chemical diversity, including molecular complexity, mixture complexity and differences in relative compound concentrations. This approach yielded modules of co-occurring chemical shifts that were correlated with specific compounds or common structural features shared across compounds. This approach was then applied to crude phytochemical extracts of 31 species in the phytochemically diverse tropical plant genus Piper (Piperaceae). Combining the activity of crude plant extracts in an array of bioassays with our 1H-NMR network approach, we identified a potential prenylated benzoic acid from these mixtures that exhibits antifungal properties and identified small structural differences that were potentially responsible for antifungal activity. In an intraspecific analysis of individual Piper kelleyi plants, we also found ontogenetic differences in chemistry that may affect natural plant enemies. In sum, this approach allowed us to characterize mixtures as useful network modules and to combine chemical and ecological datasets to identify biologically important compounds from crude extracts.
Project description:Farmland soil typical for the Polish rural environment was used in pot experiment to estimate the impact of cadmium and zinc on the manganese, lead and copper uptake by lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L). Bioavailable and total forms of investigated metals in soil and metal concentrations in plants were determined by atomic absorption spectrometry. The plant photosynthesis indicators were also examined. Intensification of photosynthesis upon the high zinc and cadmium soil supplementation was observed. This effect was not detected at low metal concentrations. ANOVA proved that cadmium and zinc treatments influenced manganese, lead and copper transfer from soil and their concentration in plants. Zinc uptake and accumulation in either roots or above-ground parts in plant was inversely proportional to cadmium concentration in soil. Manganese concentration in roots decreased upon the soil supplementation with either zinc or cadmium. It suggests that the latter ions are transported via symplastic pathways and compete with manganese for similar transporters. The opposite situation was observed for lead and copper. Soil supplementation with cadmium and zinc affects manganese, lead and copper concentrations and photosynthesis intensity in lemon balm plant. The following combined interactions in either normal or stress conditions are important indicators of the migration pathways.
Project description:The debate whether the coevolution of plants and insects or macroevolutionary processes (phylogeny) is the main driver determining the arsenal of molecular defensive compounds of plants remains unresolved. Attacks by herbivorous insects affect not only the composition of defensive compounds in plants but also the entire metabolome. Metabolomes are the final products of genotypes and are constrained by macroevolutionary processes, so closely related species should have similar metabolomic compositions and may respond in similar ways to attacks by folivores. We analyzed the elemental compositions and metabolomes of needles from three closely related Pinus species with distant coevolutionary histories with the caterpillar of the processionary moth respond similarly to its attack. All pines had different metabolomes and metabolic responses to herbivorous attack. The metabolomic variation among the species and the responses to folivory reflected their macroevolutionary relationships, with P. pinaster having the most divergent metabolome. The concentrations of terpenes were in the attacked trees supporting the hypothesis that herbivores avoid plant individuals with higher concentrations. Our results suggest that macroevolutionary history plays important roles in the metabolomic responses of these pine species to folivory, but plant-insect coevolution probably constrains those responses. Combinations of different evolutionary factors and trade-offs are likely responsible for the different responses of each species to folivory, which is not necessarily exclusively linked to plant-insect coevolution.
Project description:Eurycoma longifolia is a popular folk medicine in South East Asia. This study was focused on saccharide-containing compounds including saponins, mainly because of their medical potentials. Different organic solvents such as ethyl acetate, butanol, and chloroform were used to fractionate the phytochemical groups, which were consequently precipitated in cold acetone. Solvent fractionation was found to increase the total saponin content based on colorimetric assay using vanillin and sulfuric acid. Ethyl acetate fraction and its precipitate were showed to have the highest crude saponins after acetone precipitation. The samples were shown to have anti-proliferative activity comparable with tamoxifen (IC50 = 110.6 µg/mL) against human breast cancer cells. The anti-proliferative activities of the samples were significantly improved from crude extract (IC50 = 616.3 µg/mL) to ethyl acetate fraction (IC50 = 185.4 µg/mL) and its precipitate (IC50 = 153.4 µg/mL). LC-DAD-MS/MS analysis revealed that the saccharide-containing compounds such as m/z 497, 610, 723, 836, and 949 were abundant in the samples, and they could be ionized in negative ion mode. The compounds consisted of 226 amu monomers with UV-absorbing property at 254 nm, and were tentatively identified as formylated hexoses. To conclude, solvent fractionation and acetone precipitation could produce saccharide-containing compounds including saponins with higher anti-proliferative activity than crude extract against MCF-7 cells. This is the first study to use non-toxic solvents for fractionation of bioactive compounds from highly complex plant extract of E. longifolia.
Project description:Panax notoginseng is famous for its important therapeutic effects. Saponins are bioactive compounds found in different parts and developmental stages of P. notoginseng plants. Thus, it is urgently to study saponins distribution in different parts and growth ages of P. notoginseng plants. In this study, potential biomarkers were found, and their chemical characteristic differences were revealed through metabolomic analysis. High-performance liquid chromatography data indicated the higher content of saponins (i.e., Rg1, Re, Rd, and Rb1) in the underground parts than that in the aerial parts. 20(S)-Protopanaxadiol saponins were mainly distributed in the aerial parts. Additionally, the total saponin content in the 3-year-old P. notoginseng plant (188.0 mg/g) was 1.4-fold higher than that in 2-year-old plant (130.5 mg/g). The transcriptomic analysis indicated the tissue-specific transcription expression of genes, namely, PnFPS, PnSS, PnSE1, PnSE2, and PnDS, which encoded critical synthases in saponin biosyntheses. These genes showed similar expression patterns among the parts of P. notoginseng plants. The expression levels of these genes in the flowers and leaves were 5.2fold higher than that in the roots and fibrils. These results suggested that saponins might be actively synthesized in the aerial parts and transformed to the underground parts. This study provides insights into the chemical and genetic characteristics of P. notoginseng to facilitate the synthesis of its secondary metabolites and a scientific basis for appropriate collection and rational use of this plant.