Review article


, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 334-347

First online:

Plant essential oils and formamidines as insecticides/acaricides: what are the molecular targets?

  • Wolfgang BlenauAffiliated withInstitut für Bienenkunde (Polytechnische Gesellschaft), Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main Email author 
  • , Eva RademacherAffiliated withInstitute of Biology, Freie Universität Berlin
  • , Arnd BaumannAffiliated withInstitute of Complex Systems—Cellular Biophysics-(ICS-4)

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The parasitic mite Varroa destructor is the main cause of the severe reduction in beekeeping during the last few decades. Therefore, efforts have been made to develop chemical treatments against the parasite. In the past, synthetic products were preferentially used to combat Varroa mites. Nowadays, mainly plant essential oils and organic acids are applied because they are safer and impose less unfavorable effects on the environment. Essential oils contain mixtures of mostly volatile and odorous terpenoid constituents. The molecular targets of these substances are tyramine and/or octopamine receptors that control and modulate vital functions ranging from metabolism to behavior. Disturbing the native function of these receptors in the mite results in deleterious effects in this parasite. This overview considers not only tyramine and octopamine receptors but also other potential targets of essential oils including ionotropic GABAA receptors, TRP type ion channels, and acetylcholinesterase.


GABA G protein-coupled receptor octopamine thymol tyramine