Allelochemical resistance of bald cypress,Taxodium distichum, heartwood to the subterranean termite,Coptotermes formosanus

J Chem Ecol. 1988 Mar;14(3):765-76. doi: 10.1007/BF01018771.


The heartwood of bald cypress,Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich., resisted feeding attack by the Formosan subterranean termite,Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki. Hexane-extracted heartwood, however, was consumed at > 12 times the amount of sound heartwood eaten. A bioassay usingT. distichum sapwood as a feeding substrate was employed to assess the antitermitic activity of successive hexane, acetone, and methanol extracts of heartwood shavings and isolates derived from the active hexane extract. Two fractions, eluted from the crude hexane extract by liquid chromatography, significantly reduced termite feeding compared to the parent extract, while a third fraction was less active than the original hexane extract. Each fraction contained one major component. All three components were structurally related diterpenes. The two most active heartwood constituents were identified by GC-MS and NMR as ferruginol and manool, while the third and least active, but most prevalent, compound in heartwood was identified as nezukol. Results of bioassays suggest that these allelochemicals act principally as feeding deterrents with accompanying termite mortality due to starvation.