Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1255–1275 | Cite as

Plant secondary metabolites against arthropods of medical importance

  • Nikoletta NtalliEmail author
  • George Koliopoulos
  • Athanasios Giatropoulos
  • Urania Menkissoglu-Spiroudi


Natural compounds of botanical origin are increasingly being investigated for the development of novel biocides. Intensive use of synthetic biocides and the confined array of chemical classes in use has led to the buildup of unwanted residues and to parasites’ adaptive responses and resistance. Meanwhile, the geographic and host ranges of arthropod vectors and vector-borne diseases are broadening. In an effort to develop “friendly” biocidal compounds for the environment and human health, plant secondary metabolites originating in a number of botanical families could be engaged. This mini-review compiles the recently available knowledge on plant secondary metabolites exhibiting biocidal properties and provides a brief overview on their activity against arthropods with a focus on toxic and repellent properties. The selected examples show that it is valuable to consider plants as a promising source for new products development to support the fight against arthropods related to human health. Finally, we outline the biocides regulatory framework in the European Union (EU) and pinpoint some issues of concern regarding the development of low risk biocides.

Graphic abstract

Plant secondary metabolites acting against arthropods of medical importance


Biocidal Cockroaches Mosquitoes Flies Ticks 



We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Keith Matthiews, Of Counsel at Wiley Rein LLP, Washington, District Of Columbia and former Director of the Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division (BPPD) in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) for extensively performing language editing in the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pesticide Control and Phytopharmacy, Laboratory of Biological Control of PesticidesBenaki Phytopathological InstituteAthensGreece
  2. 2.Pesticide Science Laboratory, School of Agriculture, Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural EnvironmentAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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