Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 10493–10503 | Cite as

Clausena anisata and Dysphania ambrosioides essential oils: from ethno-medicine to modern uses as effective insecticides

  • Roman Pavela
  • Filippo Maggi
  • Giulio Lupidi
  • Hélène Mbuntcha
  • Verlaine Woguem
  • Hilaire Macaire Womeni
  • Luciano Barboni
  • Léon Azefack Tapondjou
  • Giovanni BenelliEmail author
Plant-borne compounds and nanoparticles: challenges for medicine, parasitology and entomology


Dysphania ambrosioides (L.) Mosyakin & Clemants (Amaranthaceae) and Clausena anisata (Willd.) Hook. f. ex Benth. (Rutaceae) are two aromatic species traditionally used in Cameroon to repel and kill insects. The present work was carried out to substantiate this traditional use and to evaluate the possible incorporation in commercial botanical insecticides of their essential oils (EOs). The EOs were distilled from leaves of C. anisata and aerial parts of D. ambrosioides and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The insecticidal activity of both EOs was investigated against the filariasis vector, Culex quinquefasciatus, and the housefly, Musca domestica. As possible mode of action, the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) by the two EOs was investigated as well. The D. ambrosioides EO was characterized by the monoterpene peroxide ascaridole (61.4%) and the aromatic p-cymene (29.0%), whereas the C. anisata EO was dominated by the phenylpropanoids (E)-anethole (64.6%) and (E)-methyl isoeugenol (16.1%). The C. anisata EO proved to be very toxic to third instar larvae of C. quinquefasciatus showing LC50 of 29.3 μl/l, whereas D. ambrosioides EO was more toxic to adults of M. domestica showing a LD50 of 51.7 μg/adult. The mixture of both EOs showed a significant synergistic effect against mosquito larvae with LC50 estimated as 19.3 μl/l, whereas this phenomenon was not observed upon application to M. domestica adults (LD50 = 75.9 μg/adult). Of the two EOs, the D. ambrosioides one provided a good inhibition of AChE (IC50 = 77 μg/ml), whereas C. anisata oil was not effective. These findings provide new evidences supporting the ethno-botanical use of these two Cameroonian plants, and their possible application even in synergistic binary blends, to develop new eco-friendly, safe and effective herbal insecticides.


Culex quinquefasciatus Ethno-botanical pesticides Musca domestica St. Louis encephalitis Dysphania ambrosioides Clausena anisata 



Roman Pavela would like to thank the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic for its financial support concerning botanical pesticide and basic substances research (Project No. RO0417). Filippo Maggi is grateful to the University of Camerino (Fondo di Ateneo per la Ricerca, FAR 2014/2015, FPI 000044) for financial support.

Author contributions

The contributions of the respective authors are as follows: R. Pavela ( performed the insecticidal experiments; F. Maggi ( interpreted data and drafted the manuscript; G. Lupidi ( determined the anti-AChE and antioxidant activity; H. Mbuntcha (, V. Woguem ( and H.M. Womeni ( collected the plant material and hydrodistilled the EOs; L. Barboni ( performed the chemical analyses; L.A. Tapondjou ( collected ethno-botanical information and drafted the manuscript; G. Benelli ( conceived the research, interpreted and analyzed the data, drafted and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved 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-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roman Pavela
    • 1
  • Filippo Maggi
    • 2
  • Giulio Lupidi
    • 2
  • Hélène Mbuntcha
    • 3
    • 4
  • Verlaine Woguem
    • 3
    • 4
  • Hilaire Macaire Womeni
    • 4
  • Luciano Barboni
    • 5
  • Léon Azefack Tapondjou
    • 3
  • Giovanni Benelli
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Crop Research InstitutePrague 6Czech Republic
  2. 2.School of PharmacyUniversity of CamerinoCamerinoItaly
  3. 3.Laboratory of Environmental and Applied Chemistry, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of DschangDschangCameroon
  4. 4.Laboratory of Biochemistry of Medicinal Plants, Food Science and Nutrition, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of DschangDschangCameroon
  5. 5.School of Science and TechnologyUniversity of CamerinoCamerinoItaly
  6. 6.Department of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

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