Long-Term Effects on Food Choice of Land Snail Arianta arbustorum Mediated by Petasin and Furanopetasin, Two Sesquiterpenes from Petasites hybridus

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Sesquiterpenes (STs) from the Senecioneae have been found to be potent snail repellents. We investigated the range of activity of the STs petasin, isopetasin, furanopetasin, kablicin, and cacalol, which were isolated from Petasites hybridus, P. kablikianus, and Adenostyles alpina. We found the petasin content of leaves of P. hybridus to lie within the range of deterrence of the isolated compound. Furthermore, leaf extracts containing petasin proved to be deterrent, and leaf discs with low petasin content were preferred over discs with higher petasin content. The cacalol-containing fraction of a leaf extract of A. alpina was not deterrent to the snails. When the snails had experience with the relevant ST one week before a choice test, their sensitivity towards petasine and furanopetasine increased whereas for the other ST it remained at the same level. We speculate that this sensitivity increase could be the result of a rapid long-term associative learning process, but there is also the possibility that these STs are directly interfering with the feeding motor program of the snails, thereby eliciting a direct neurophysiological sensitization reaction which prevents them from further feeding.

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