Monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) was identified as a host recognition cue for larvae of the western corn rootworm Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte. An active glycolipid fraction obtained from an extract of germinating maize roots was isolated with thin layer chromatography using a bioassay-driven approach. When analyzed with LC-MS (positive ion scanning), the assay-active spot was found to contain four different MGDG species: 18:3–18:3 (1,2-dilinolenoyl), 18:2–18:3 (1-linoleoyl, 2-linolenoyl), 18:2–18:2 (1,2-dilinoleoyl), and 18:2–16:0 (1-linoleoyl, 2-palmitoyl). A polar fraction was also needed for activity. When combined with a polar fraction containing a blend of sugars (glucose: fructose:sucrose:myoinositol), the isolated MGDG elicited a unique tight-turning behavior by neonate western corn rootworm larvae that is indicative of host recognition. In behavioral bioassays where disks treated with the active blend were exposed to successive sets of rootworm larvae, the activity of MGDG increased over four exposures, suggesting that larvae may be responding to compounds produced after enzymatic breakdown of MGDG. In subsequent tests with synthetic blends composed of theoretical MGDG-breakdown products, larval responses to four synthetic blends were not significantly different (P<0.5) than the response to isolated MGDG. GC-MS analysis showed modest increases in the amounts of the 16:0, 18:0, and 18:3 free fatty acids released from MGDG after a 30-min exposure to rootworm larvae, which is consistent with the enzymatic breakdown hypothesis.
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Vol. 108 • No. 2