Plant Compounds in Pachysandra terminalis That Act as Feeding Deterrents to Prairie Voles

in HortScience
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  • 1 Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-3001

Many plants have mechanisms of physical or chemical resistance that protect them from herbivores in their environment. The ornamental plant Pachysandra terminalis Sieb. and Zucc is highly unpalatable to voles, but the nature of this resistance is not fully understood. Extracts of P. terminalis were prepared to determine the extent to which chemical constituents could account for its avoidance by voles. A bioassay in which samples were mixed with applesauce showed that ethanolic extracts were highly deterrent to captive prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster Wagner, 1842). Bioassay-guided fractionation of ethanol extracts showed that antifeedant activity was present in both polar and non-polar fractions. Further separation of each fraction by open column chromatography and high pressure liquid chromatography revealed that combinations of compounds were responsible for the deterrent activity. Preliminary ultraviolet and mass spectroscopic analyses indicated that steroidal alkaloids that are characteristic of this plant are likely to be involved.

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