The plant hopper Issus coleoptratus can detoxify phloem sap saponins including the degradation of the terpene core
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Issus coleoptratus is a small plant hopper which mainly feeds on the phloem sap from ivy. Although all parts of ivy are poisonous as the plant contains saponins, especially hederasaponins, I. coleoptratus can cope with the poison. In contrast to other animals like the stick insect Carausius morosus which accumulates saponins in its body, I. coleoptratus can degrade and disintegrate not only the saponins but even the genines, i.e. the triterpene core of the substances. This is perhaps made possible by a specialised midgut and/or the salivary glands. When the glands and the gut are dissected and added to saponins in solution, the saponins, including the genines, are degraded ex vivo.