Roots of the carrot cultivars Vertou L.D. (resistant) and Long Chantenay (susceptible) were subjected to detailed chemical analysis to identify extracts and compounds influencing larval host-finding (preference/non-preference) behavior and to compare concentrations of these compounds in resistant and susceptible cultivars. Vertou yielded threefold less volatile material in headspace extracts of pureed roots. Extracts of chopped root in methanol, steam, hexane, and chloroform were inactive in behavioral assays. However, ether extracts were active and their hydrocarbon and carbonyl-rich fractions contained potent attractants. The principal constituent of the carbonyl-rich fraction of each cultivar was the carotatoxin complex comprising the neurotoxin falcarinol (carotatoxin), falcarindiol, and falcarindiol monoacetate, the latter compound here reported for the first time from carrot. Falcarinol (50 and 100 μg) was active in a behavioral assay, and all three ingredients of the complex were potent electrophysiological stimuli, eliciting maximum single unit responses to source concentrations of 10 ng. Furthermore, the complex was more abundant by about 1000 μg/root in Long Chantenay. As this comprised extra amounts of 70, 862, and 110 μg of falcarinol, falcarindiol, and falcarindiol monoacetate, respectively, the observed differences seem both behaviorally and physiologically relevant. It is generally accepted that coevolution has transformed the role of many toxins into host-location cues, but this seems a relatively rare example of a neurotoxin (falcarinol) evincing, in decreased concentrations, nonpreference host resistance. This evolved response to a toxin present in large concentrations is contrasted with that totrans-2-nonenal, which paralyses and kills the larva and is present in only trace amounts in the root.
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