Letter | Published:

Coevolution of Danaid butterflies with their host plants

Nature volume 250, pages 646648 (23 August 1974) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

MALE butterflies of the nymphalid subfamily Danainae possess pheromone disseminating organs (hairpencils) the secretions of which function as female flight arrestants or aphrodisiacs1,2 and in some case as female attractants1. The hairpencil secretions of a number of Danaid species contain dihydropyrrolizine derivatives3–8 which are obtained from pyrrolizidine alkaloid plants by adult feeding6,7. A dihydropyrrolizine ketone isolated8 from the hairpencils of Danaus gilippus berenice Cramer has been shown to be the flight arrestant or aphrodisiac pheromone in this species2,9 and we believe that the related dihydropyrrolizines found on the hairpencils of other species may perform a similar function. We propose here one possible explanation for the unusual dependence of male Danaid butterflies on pyrrolizidine alkaloid plants.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    , , and , Zoologica, 50, 1 (1965).

  2. 2.

    , and , Science, 164, 1170 (1969).

  3. 3.

    , , , , and , Science, 151, 583 (1966).

  4. 4.

    , , , and , Tetrahedron Lett., 3485 (1971).

  5. 5.

    , , and , Experientia, 27, 761 (1971).

  6. 6.

    , , and , J. Aust. ent. Soc., 12, 144 (1973).

  7. 7.

    , and , Nature (in the press).

  8. 8.

    , , and , Science, 164, 1175 (1969).

  9. 9.

    , and , Science, 164, 1173 (1969).

  10. 10.

    , , , and , Science, 161, 861 (1968).

  11. 11.

    , Scient. Am., 220, 22 (1969).

  12. 12.

    , and , Evolution, 18, 586 (1965).

  13. 13.

    , , and , The Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (North Holland, Amsterdam, 1968).

  14. 14.

    , J. Bombay nat. Hist. Soc., 51, 752 (1952).

  15. 15.

    , The Evolution and Classification of Flowering Plants (Nelson, London, 1968).

  16. 16.

    , Flowering Plants Origin and Dispersal (Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 1969).

  17. 17.

    , Ann. Mo. bot. Gdn, 19, 45 (1932).

  18. 18.

    , , , , and , Tetrahedron Lett., 1219 (1970).

  19. 19.

    , Helv. chim. Acta, 34, 398 (1951).

  20. 20.

    , J. chem. Soc., 3193 (1951).

  21. 21.

    , and , J. lepid. Soc., 24, 297 (1970).

  22. 22.

    , Zoologica, 40, 27 (1955).

  23. 23.

    , Proc. R. ent. Soc., Lond., A, 11, 95 (1936).

  24. 24.

    , , and , Proc. R. Soc. Lond., B, 183, 227 (1973).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  1. CSIRO. Division of Animal Health, Private Bag No. 1, PO Parkville, Victoria, 3052, Australia

    • J. A. EDGAR
    •  & C. C. J. CULVENOR
  2. University of Miami, Department of Biology, PO Box 9118, Coral Gables, Florida, 33124

    • T. E. PLISKE

Authors

  1. Search for J. A. EDGAR in:

  2. Search for C. C. J. CULVENOR in:

  3. Search for T. E. PLISKE in:

About this article

Publication history

Received

Revised

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/250646a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.