To validate the potential as added-value resources of Asteraceae and Labiatae species of Argentinean semi-arid lands, we have selected 13 of their major terpenoids belonging to several chemical classes and tested their insect antifeedant and toxic activity on the herbivorous insects Spodoptera littoralis and Leptinotarsa decemlineata. The antifeedant effects of the test compounds were structure- and species-dependent. The most active antifeedant to L. decemlineata was the eudesmane sesquiterpene γ-costic acid (13), followed by the labdane diterpene 2α,3α-dihydroxycativic acid (8), the clerodane diterpenes 6-acetylteucjaponin B (5), bacchotricuneatin A (1), bartemidiolide (7), butanolide (4), and the sesquiterpenes ilicic acid (11) and tessaric acid (10) (eudesmane and eremophilane type, respectively). S. littoralis was only affected by the clerodanes and showed the strongest response to salviarin (3) and 5, followed by hawtriwaic acid (6) and 12-epi-bacchotricuneatin A (2). Orally injected S. littoralis larvae were negatively affected by 5. Most of the diterpenes had selective cytotoxic effects to insect-derived Sf9 cells with the clerodane 1 being the most active, followed by the eudesmane costic acid (12), the only cytotoxic sesquiterpene. None of these compounds was cytotoxic to mammalian CHO cells.
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