Commercial development of plant essential oils and their constituents as active ingredients in bioinsecticides
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Insecticidal action of plant essential oils has been an area of intensive research in the new millennium, according to a recent bibliometric analysis. Despite this overwhelming research effort, commercialization of bioinsecticides based on essential oils has lagged far behind, although such products have now been used in the USA for over a decade, and in the EU in the last 4–5 years. Recent progress in commercialization of these products is reviewed here. Essential oils and their mono- and sesquiterpenoid constituents are fast-acting neurotoxins in insects, possibly interacting with multiple receptor types. These compounds also display potentially important sublethal behavioural effects in pest insects, including feeding and oviposition deterrence and repellence. Synergy among essential oil terpenoids appears to be a common phenomenon, and a mechanism for this action in rosemary oil has recently been demonstrated. Commercial development of bioinsecticides based on plant essential oils can follow several different pathways producing products with active ingredients differing in their genesis. These include products whose active ingredients consist of (1) a mixture of essential oils; (2) a single essential oil, or a single terpenoid constituent; (3) a blend of terpenoids, synthetically produced, that emulate those in a plant essential oil; and (4) a novel (non-natural) blend of terpenoids obtained from different plant sources. Examples of each of these are provided.
KeywordsNatural insecticides Insecticidal terpenoids Feeding deterrents Oviposition deterrents Synergisitic natural products
Research on plant essential oil-based pesticides in the author’s laboratory was generously supported from 1996 to 2017 by EcoSMART Technologies, KeyPlex and Kittrich Corporation.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author is a founding member of, and continues to serve on the Scientific Advisory Panel of KeyPlex/Kittrich, and consults to other biopesticide companies.
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