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Campus as laboratory: U-M student biologists use Diag trees to help solve gypsy moth mystery
Date:1/30/2013

the nearby Natural Sciences Building, the research team used high-performance liquid chromatography to separate and quantify the amino acids that make up proteins. The whole-body essential amino acid composition of gypsy moth caterpillars was measured to estimate their optimum dietary protein composition, which was compared with the EAA compositions of oak and maple leaves.

"The ability to literally walk out the door to work on tree defenses against pests like the gypsy moth, coupled with an abundance of undergraduate talent, makes the U-M campus an ideal location for studies in insect chemical ecology," Barbehenn said.

The protein study showed that gypsy moths would have to devour more maple leaves than oak leaves to achieve the same amount of nourishment. But earlier work by Barbehenn and his students showed that the toxicity of maple leaves may prevent this strategy from working.

Studies conducted on the U-M campus between 2005 and 2009 showed that sugar maple leaves produce much higher levels and more types of toxic chemicals called tannins for their defense than do red oak leaves. Tannins and other toxic chemicals provide the major strategy that plants have evolved to defend themselves against attack by insects.


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Contact: Jim Erickson
ericksn@umich.edu
734-647-1842
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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