Which Specialized Metabolites Does the Native Subantarctic Gastropod Notodiscus hookeri Extract from the Consumption of the Lichens Usnea taylorii and Pseudocyphellaria crocata?

Alice Gadea, Pierre Le Pogam, Grichka Biver, Joël Boustie, Anne-Cécile Le Lamer, Le Dévéhat Françoise, Maryvonne Charrier

Notodiscus hookeri is the only representative of terrestrial gastropods on Possession Island and exclusively feeds on lichens. The known toxicity of various lichen metabolites to plant-eating invertebrates led us to propose that N. hookeri evolved means to protect itself from their adverse effects. To validate this assumption, the current study focused on the consumption of two lichen species: Usnea taylorii and Pseudocyphellaria crocata. A controlled feeding experiment was designed to understand how the snail copes with the unpalatable and/or toxic compounds produced by these lichen species. The occurrence of two snail ecophenotypes, represented by a mineral shell and an organic shell, led to address the question of a metabolic response specific to the phenotype. Snails were fed for two months with one of these lichens and the chemical profiles of biological samples of N. hookeri (i.e., crop, digestive gland, intestine, and feces) were established by HPLC-DAD-MS and compared to that of the lichens. N. hookeri appears as a generalist lichen feeder able to consume toxic metabolite-containing lichens, independently of the ecophenotype. The digestive gland did not sequester lichen metabolites. The snail metabolism might be based on four non-exclusive processes according to the concerned metabolites (avoidance, passive transport, hydrolysis, and excretion).

The LC/MS analysis was carried out using Advion Expression® CMS ESI.