Rationale for developing novel mosquito larvicides based on isofuranodiene microemulsions

  • Roman Pavela
  • Lucia Pavoni
  • Giulia Bonacucina
  • Marco Cespi
  • Nickolas G. Kavallieratos
  • Loredana Cappellacci
  • Riccardo Petrelli
  • Filippo Maggi
  • Giovanni BenelliEmail author
Original Paper


Isofuranodiene is a bioactive furanosesquiterpene occurring as the major volatile compound in the essential oil from Smyrnium olusatrum (Apiaceae). It has a notable potentiality to be used as a botanical insecticide. However, its low solubility together with susceptibility to oxidation and thermal degradation limits its application on a wide scale. To face these challenges, isofuranodiene was encapsulated in stable microemulsions (MEs) at two concentrations (ME 750: 0.75%, ME 375: 0.375%). We assessed the larvicidal activity in the short term and after several days of exposure of pure isofuranodiene and its MEs against the filariasis vector Culex quinquefasciatus. The impact of ME-based larvicide at sublethal concentrations on adult emergence was evaluated. Finally, to shed light on potential ecotoxicology risks for nontarget invertebrates, MEs were tested on the aquatic microcrustacean Daphnia magna and on the earthworm Eisenia fetida. Pure isofuranodiene and S. olusatrum leaf essential oil, used as controls, showed their potential as mosquito larvicidal agents (LC50 of 29.2 and 18.6 μL L−1, respectively). Isofuranodiene formulated in ME 750 was effective against C. quinquefasciatus larvae, leading to significant larval mortality over time and a marked decrease in adult emergence. Both isofuranodiene MEs showed little impact on the nontarget aquatic microcrustacean Daphnia magna (ME 750 and ME 375: mortality < 19% after 48 h of exposure at 32 mL L−1 and 20 mL L−1, respectively) as well as on earthworms (ME 750 and ME 375: no mortality and mortality < 7% after 14 days of exposure to 1000 mg kg−1, respectively), outlining their potential employ in vector control operations.


Culex quinquefasciatus Eco-friendly pesticides Essential oil Filariasis Non-target organisms Smyrnium olusatrum Sublethal toxicity Zika virus vector 



Roman Pavela would like to thank the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic for its financial support concerning botanical pesticides and basic substances research (Project MZE-RO0418).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Animals and human rights

All applicable international and national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roman Pavela
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lucia Pavoni
    • 3
  • Giulia Bonacucina
    • 3
  • Marco Cespi
    • 3
  • Nickolas G. Kavallieratos
    • 4
  • Loredana Cappellacci
    • 3
  • Riccardo Petrelli
    • 3
  • Filippo Maggi
    • 3
  • Giovanni Benelli
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Crop Research InstitutePrague 6Czech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Plant ProtectionCzech University of Life Sciences PraguePrague 6Czech Republic
  3. 3.School of PharmacyUniversity of CamerinoCamerinoItaly
  4. 4.Laboratory of Agricultural Zoology and Entomology, Department of Crop ScienceAgricultural University of AthensAthensGreece
  5. 5.Department of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

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