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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Anointing chemicals and ectoparasites: effects of benzoquinones from millipedes on the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum.

Many mammals and birds roll on or rub themselves with millipedes that discharge benzoquinones. Chemicals transferred from millipedes onto the integument of anointing animals are thought to deter ectoparasites. We tested the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (L.), for responses to three widespread components of millipede defensive secretions, 1,4-benzoquinone; 2-methyl-1,4-benzoquinone (toluquinone); and 2-methoxy-3-methyl-1,4-benzoquinone (MMB). In toxicity tests, ticks were confined for 1 hr in filter-paper packets treated with serial dilutions of each of the benzoquinones or the commercial acaricide permethrin. Ticks were least affected by toluquinone, and most affected by permethrin. Of the benzoquinones, only MMB showed repellent activity. Behavioral assays were more sensitive than mortality for measuring the effects of the benzoquinones. Latencies for ticks to right themselves and to climb were greater with all compounds, even at the lowest concentrations, than with controls. Ticks exposed to low concentrations of benzoquinones appeared to recover over time, whereas those exposed to high concentrations exhibited behavioral abnormalities 1-3 mo later. Our results indicate that benzoquinones appropriated via anointing may reduce the tick loads of free-ranging animals, although key questions remain on the amounts of these compounds available to and effectively appropriated by anointing animals.[1]


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