Journal of experimental marine biology and ecology, 252(1):27-44, 9, 2000. Paper Website abstract bibtex
A variety of Antarctic marine invertebrates contains secondary metabolites that may provide defense against potential predators. However, only in a few cases have tissues, extracts or isolated compounds of these invertebrates been tested against sympatric predators. The Antarctic nudibranch Bathydoris hodgsoni Eliot, 1907 contains hodgsonal, a compound only present in the external body (mantle tissues), which may protect the slugs from predators. To test this defensive hypothesis for hodgsonal, we carried out a series of experiments using the sympatric omnivorous seastar Odontaster validus Koehler, 1906 as a potential predator. Our experiments revealed that natural concentrations of hodgsonal elicit significant feeding deterrent responses in O. validus. Furthermore, hodgsonal is probably biosynthesized de novo by the nudibranch, since it was not detected in the viscera (as it should be in the case of a dietary compound), its concentration in the mantle (0.05-0.15% dry mass) is quite constant in individuals from different localities and depths, and its sequestration from a particular dietary source is unlikely because B. hodgsoni is an omnivorous feeder.