In a recently published review article, Romanian researchers investigate the possibilities of using essential oils from different plants as next-generation pesticides. Here, they present the most recent applications and future perspectives in this area.
By Irina Fierascu & Radu Claudiu Fierascu
Worldwide, our way of life and our ever-increasing demand for food products has led to the over-use of chemical pesticides, representing a multi-billion USD market. This extensive use can have major adverse effects, polluting our soils and waters, and finally affecting the health of humans and animals. At the same time, many targeted pests have been developing resistance to those substances.
Could essential oils be the solution?
As their name suggests, essential oils are often described as “containing the essence of a plant”. They are usually used in aromatherapy, or simply to spread nice odors. From a chemical point of view, they represent a complex and unique mixture of numerous classes of compounds, which is specific for each plant, strongly volatile (i.e. evaporating rapidly), and hardly dissolvable in water.
Although the costs for obtaining essential oils can be considered rather high when compared with synthetic chemicals, they represent a good alternative – especially for the use in organic agriculture, where the focus is shifted from costs and absolute efficacy towards human and animal safety. At the same time they provide a solution to the problem of pesticide-resistant pests
Insecticides are used to fight “harmful” insects that can cause economic losses in the agricultural area, or even serious illnesses, such as yellow fever, dengue fever or chikungunya fever. All of these diseases are spread by mosquitos and can be lethal. Essential oils obtained from different flowering plants or trees, such as basil, juniper, ginger, rosemary, oregano, thyme, mint, pine, pistachio tree, camphor tree, were proven to be effective against these insects. Similar materials can be used against other types of bugs, such as ticks, mites or worms.
“The captivating field of essential oils finds practical applications in numerous areas”, the authors of the corresponding review paper comment. “They could provide important tools in fighting pests that have important economic implications or are vectors of serious illnesses.”
Learn more in the original article:
Radu Claudiu Fierascu, Ioana Catalina Fierascu, Cristina Elena Dinu-Pirvu, Irina Fierascu & Alina Paunescu: The application of essential oils as a next-generation of pesticides: recent developments and future perspectives, 30.11.2019.