Termiticidal chemicals derived from tropical tree resins
A Messer, K McCormick, D Richardson, Sunjaya, H Hagedorn, J Meinwald
To test the hypothesis that defensive chemicals protect tropical primary forest trees against biological attack, a bioassay and fractionation program was conducted in Indonesia. Fresh dipterocarp resins were fed in no-choice tests to Neotermes dalbergiae termites on 4.5 cm filter papers, or tested for inhibition of fungal growth. Fractionation of biologically active resins via flash column chromatography, followed by subsequent bioassay and analytical chemical studies, revealed that several sesquiterpene compounds inhibited fungal growth and killed 50% of test termites in 3-7 days. Toxic fractions contained caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, alloaromadendrene, and other compounds. From the relatively non-toxic a-gurjunene, novel termiticidal compounds were synthesized, indicating the potential for manufacture of insecticides from natural products.