Transepithelial transport of salicylate by the Malpighian tubules of insects from different orders Academic Article uri icon

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  • The organic anion salicylate is a plant secondary metabolite that protects plants against phytophagous insects. In this study, a combination of salicylate-selective microelectrodes and a radioisotope tracer technique was used to study the transepithelial transport of salicylate by the Malpighian tubules of 10 species of insects from five orders. Our results show that salicylate is transported into the lumen of the Malpighian tubules in all the species evaluated, except Rhodnius prolixus. The transepithelial transport of salicylate by the Malpighian tubules of Drosophila simulans, Drosophila erecta, Drosophila sechellia, and Acheta domesticus was saturable, Na(+)-dependent and inhibited by alpha-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid. This transport system resembles that previously found in tubules of Drosophila melanogaster. In contrast, transepithelial transport of salicylate by Malpighian tubules of Tenebrio molitor, Plagiodera versicolora, Aedes aegypti, and Trichoplusia ni was unaffected by Na(+)-free bathing saline. The presence of both salicylate and salicylate metabolites in the secreted fluid samples from the Malpighian tubules of A. domesticus, R. prolixus, T. molitor, and T. ni indicates that insect Malpighian tubules may both transport and metabolize salicylate. The highest capacities to rid the hemolymph of salicylate were found in T. molitor, P. versicolora and Drosphila spp. Our results suggest that transport of salicylate by the Malpighian tubules might contribute to elimination of this organic anion from the hemolymph, particularly in some species that encounter high levels of organic anion in the diet.


  • O'donnell, Michael J
  • Ruiz-Sanchez, Esau
  • Van Walderveen, Maria C
  • Livingston, Alexandra
  • O’Donnell, Michael J

publication date

  • October 2007