Chemical defense and chemical variation in some tropical Pacific species of Halimeda (Halimedaceae; Chlorophyta)
- 1) University of Guam Marine Laboratory, UOG Station, 96923, Mangilao, Guam, USA
- 2) Department of Zoology NJ-15, University of Washington, 98195, Seattle, Washington, USA
Over a dozen species of the genus Halimeda have been chemically investigated and found to produce the diterpenoid metabolites halimedatrial (1) and halimedatetraacetate (2) in varying concentrations. These meabolites have been proposed to play a role in chemical defense against herbivores based on their chemical structures and their demonstrated biological activities in laboratory and aquarium assays. We examined and compared the feeding deterrent effects of these two compounds tovard herbivorous fishes in field experiments on Guam reefs. Halimedatrial is a more effective feeding deterrent than halimedatetraacetate. It is the major secondary metabolite in young Halimeda macroloba and in the newly produced segments of growing plants. The organic extracts from young plants and new segments were significantly more deterrent than extracts from mature plant tissue. Some populations of Halimeda growing in reef-slope habitats, where herbivory is intense, also have high concentrations of halimedatrial. We compared extracts between reef slope and reef flat collections of Halimeda opuntia on Guam and Pohnpei (= Ponape), and H. discoidea and H. macroloba on Guam. We found that halimedtrial was the major metabolite in reef-slope collections of H. opuntia from Pohnpei and Pago Bay, Guam, and that halimedatetraacetate was the major metabolite a non-reef slope populations. In the cases examined, chemical defenses were greatest in (1) plant parts and (2) populations that were at greatest risk to herbivores.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie