Many bioactive products from benthic invertebrates mediating ecological interactions have proved to reduce predation, but their mechanisms of action, and their molecular identities, are usually unknown. It was suggested, yet scarcely investigated, that nutritional quality interferes with defensive metabolites. This means that antifeedants would be less effective when combined with energetically rich prey, and that higher amounts of defensive compounds would be needed for predator avoidance. We evaluated the effects of five types of repellents obtained from Antarctic invertebrates, in combination with diets of different energetic values. The compounds came from soft corals, ascidians and hexactinellid sponges; they included wax esters, alkaloids, a meroterpenoid, a steroid, and the recently described organic acid, glassponsine. Feeding repellency was tested through preference assays by preparing diets (alginate pearls) combining different energetic content and inorganic material. Experimental diets contained various concentrations of each repellent product, and were offered along with control compound-free pearls, to the Antarctic omnivore amphipod Cheirimedon femoratus. Meridianin alkaloids were the most active repellents, and wax esters were the least active when combined with foods of distinct energetic content. Our data show that levels of repellency vary for each compound, and that they perform differently when mixed with distinct assay foods. The natural products that interacted the most with energetic content were those occurring in nature at higher concentrations. The bioactivity of the remaining metabolites tested was found to depend on a threshold concentration, enough to elicit feeding repellence, independently from nutritional quality.
Nuń̃ez-Pons, L., & Avila, C. (2014). Defensive metabolites from antarctic invertebrates: Does energetic content interfere with feeding repellence? Marine Drugs, 12(6), 3770–3791. https://doi.org/10.3390/md12063770