Submitted to: ACS Chemical Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/14/2006
Publication Date: 9/15/2006
Citation: Dossey, A.T., Walse, S.S., Rocca, J.R., Edison, A.S. 2006. Single-insect NMR: A new tool to probe chemical biodiversity. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 1(8):511-514. Interpretive Summary: Due to analytical limitations, multiple animals or plants are typically required to identify natural products. Using a unique 1-mm high-temperature superconducting NMR probe, we directly examined the chemical composition of secreted natural products from individual insects. Even though the individual insects were raised in the same container and fed the same food, they each produced a unique mixture of natural products. Future research will focus on using this technique to better understand natural product variability at the individual insect level. In general, this technique aids future natural product research by reducing the amount of material that is required for complete chemical characterization.
Technical Abstract: Due to analytical limitations, multiple animals or plants are typically required to identify natural products. Using a unique 1-mm high-temperature superconducting NMR probe, we directly examined the chemical composition of defensive secretions from walkingstick insects. Individual milkings were dissolved in D2O without purification and examined by NMR within 10 minutes of secretion. We found that Anisomorpha buprestoides secretes similar quantities of glucose and mixtures of monoterpene dialdehydes that are stereoisomers of dolichodial. Different individual animals produce different stereoisomeric mixtures, the ratio of which varies between individual animals raised in the same container and fed the same food. Another walkingstick, Peruphasma schultei, also secretes glucose and a single, unique stereoisomer that we are naming “peruphasmal”. These observations suggest a previously unrecognized significance of aqueous components in walkingstick defensive sprays. Single insect variability of venom demonstrates the potential importance of chemical biodiversity at the level of individual animals.