URSOLIC ACID AND CIS-TILIROSIDE PRODUCED BY Merremia tomentosa AFFECT OVIPOSITION OF Leucoptera coffeella ON COFFEE PLANTS

To contribute to the development of new products to control the coffee leaf miner (Leucoptera coffeella), which is a major pest for coffee plants, this work aimed to select plant species able to produce substances active against this insect and to identify the active substances in the selected plant and their protein targets in the insect. Among the extracts of nineteen plant species, only that from leaves of Merremia tomentosa (Choisy) Hall. f. (Convolvulaceae) reduced the oviposition of L. coffeella on leaves of coffee plants. This extract was submitted to successive fractionation steps to achieve the isolation and identification of two active substances, ursolic acid (UA) and cis-tiliroside (CT). An in silico study showed that UA inhibits glycogen phosphorylases (GP) by binding to their allosteric site, while CT probably inhibits xanthine dehydrogenases (XT). As both GP and XT appear to be essential enzymes for insects, these results suggest that, during evolution, L. coffeella learned to identify plants producing inhibitors of these enzymes to avoid oviposition on such plants. Thus, both UA and CT have potential to be used as lead compounds in the development of new products for the control of the coffee leaf miner.