Slobodan E. Makarov 1 , Michaela Bodner 2 , Doris Reineke 2 , Ljubodrag V. Vujisić 3 , Marina M. Todosijević 3 , Dragan Ž. Antić 1 , Boyan Vagalinski 4 , Luka R. Lučić 1 , Bojan M. Mitić 1 , Plamen Mitov 5 , Boban D. Anđelković 3 , Sofija Pavković Lucić 1 , Vlatka Vajs 6 , Vladimir T. Tomić 1 , Günther Raspotnig , 2 , 7
16 March 2017
Cave animals live under highly constant ecological conditions and in permanent darkness, and many evolutionary adaptations of cave-dwellers have been triggered by their specific environment. A similar “cave effect” leading to pronounced chemical interactions under such conditions may be assumed, but the chemoecology of troglobionts is mostly unknown. We investigated the defensive chemistry of a largely cave-dwelling julid group, the controversial tribe “Typhloiulini”, and we included some cave-dwelling and some endogean representatives. While chemical defense in juliform diplopods is known to be highly uniform, and mainly based on methyl- and methoxy-substituted benzoquinones, the defensive secretions of typhloiulines contained ethyl-benzoquinones and related compounds. Interestingly, ethyl-benzoquinones were found in some, but not all cave-dwelling typhloiulines, and some non-cave dwellers also contained these compounds. On the other hand, ethyl-benzoquinones were not detected in troglobiont nor in endogean typhloiuline outgroups. In order to explain the taxonomic pattern of ethyl-benzoquinone occurrence, and to unravel whether a cave-effect triggered ethyl-benzoquinone evolution, we classed the “Typhloiulini” investigated here within a phylogenetic framework of julid taxa, and traced the evolutionary history of ethyl-benzoquinones in typhloiulines in relation to cave-dwelling. The results indicated a cave-independent evolution of ethyl-substituted benzoquinones, indicating the absence of a “cave effect” on the secretions of troglobiont Typhloiulini. Ethyl-benzoquinones probably evolved early in an epi- or endogean ancestor of a clade including several, but not all Typhloiulus (basically comprising a taxonomic entity known as “ Typhloiulus sensu stricto”) and Serboiulus. Ethyl-benzoquinones are proposed as novel and valuable chemical characters for julid systematics.