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Stevens chemists identify compounds to lure nutria, a rat-like pest ravaging Gulf Coast wetlands
Date:3/6/2008

said Attygalle. These compounds can serve as a powerful attractant to the animals, and thus, when applied strategically, serve as a tool in the efforts to control their spread in the easily damaged coastal ecosphere.

The major terpenoid constituents were identified as (E,E)-farnesol and its esters by a comparison of their gas chromatographic retention times, and electron-ionization (EI) and chemical-ionization (CI) mass spectra with those of authentic compounds. EI mass spectra of the four farnesol isomers are very similar, however, the ChemStation (Agilent) and GCMS Solution (Shimadzu) software algorithms were able to identify the natural compound as the (E,E)-isomer, when a high-quality mass spectral library was compiled from reference samples and used for searching. Similarly, the esters were identified as those of (E,E)-farnesol. In contrast to EI spectra, the CI spectra of the (E,E)- and (E,Z)-isomers are distinctly different from those of the (Z,E)- and (Z,Z)-isomers.

Moreover, the infrared spectrum of the (E,E)-isomer is distinctly different from those of the other three isomers in the 29622968 cm−1 and 29182922 cm−1 bands, which represent asymmetric CH3 and CH2 stretching vibrations, respectively. Finally, the GC retention indices of farnesol and farnesyl ester isomers determined from authentic samples were used to confirm all identifications.

For many years, Tabasco sauce magnate E.A. McIlhenny received most of the blame for introducing the rodents from South America to Avery Island in the 1930s. McIlhenny wanted to expand the fur trade in Louisiana at that time, so he brought nutria from South America to his home on Avery Island, the story went. But a hurricane blew down the nutria pen, releasing them into the wild.

The myth held for decades, sometimes perpetuated by family members themselves. Five years ago, a historian hired by the family found records that McIlhenny actually bought the nutria from a St. Be
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Contact: Patrick A. Berzinski
pberzins@stevens.edu
201-216-5687
Stevens Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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