chapter  25
12 Pages

Specific Accumulation of Lutein within the Epidermis of Butterfly Larvae

Carotenoids are abundant phytopigments and are essential to the coloration in many birds, shes, and insects (Weedon 1971, Kayser 1982). There is growing evidence that non-provitamin A carotenoids are also signi cant phytonutrients in humans (Krinsky et al. 2005). It has been demonstrated that lutein and zeaxanthin are speci cally accumulated in the human retina and function there to protect the retina from oxidative damage (see Chapter 13; Landrum and Bone 2001). Carotenoids present in insect species affect their coloration but evidence also supports the conclusion that they function physiologically as antioxidants and photoprotectants in a manner similar to that ascribed to carotenoids in humans (Felton and Summers 1995, Jenkins et al. 1999, Heller et al. 2000, Carroll and Berenbaum 2002). The coloration patterns of butter ies and moths are often striking in both adult and larval stages and the importance of coloration to the success in butter y and moth populations is widely recognized (Carroll and Berenbaum 2002). The bright coloration of larval butter ies may also be a factor in predator avoidance; it is known that these organisms can accumulate large quantities of toxic cardenolide glycosides (Rothschild and Mummery 1986, Mebsa et al. 2005).