Organic seed treatments with essential oils to control ascochyta blight in pea

  • Luca Riccioni
  • Laura Orzali
  • Massimo Romani
  • Paolo Annicchiarico
  • Luciano PecettiEmail author


Ascochyta blight is the most important disease worldwide for pea (Pisum sativum L.) and a major threat for its cultivation, especially in organic farming. Laboratory tests and field trials in two sites (Lodi and Rome, Italy) were carried out on three cultivars for two consecutive seasons to develop organic seed treatments with essential oils against the ascochyta blight fungal complex. Tea tree, thyme and clove oils were applied to artificially infected seeds by either submersion or spray treatment, the latter adding pinolene as a natural film coating. Oil phytotoxicity and fungicide activity were tested in the laboratory by recording the number of germinated and infected seeds, respectively. Plant establishment was recorded in field trials. No effect of the inoculation/treatment process was observed on laboratory seed germination during the first season, and only slight effects in the second one. Laboratory results indicated significant activity of the oils in reducing fungal infection on seeds. The submersion treatment showed more consistent efficacy across the two seasons than the spray application. The spray treatment, instead, gave better results in field trials in terms of established plants compared to the submersion treatment. Some damage of seed coats due to imbibition might have been a side effect of the latter treatment. The essential oils appear to be an interesting tool for developing environmental-friendly seed treatments to control ascochyta blight in organic pea cultivation, without substantial differences between the tested oils in each season. Pinolene was a feasible addition to enhance the effectiveness of oil application in spray treatments.


Clove oil Thyme oil Tea tree oil Phytotoxicity Antifungal activity Pinolene 



We wish to thank the Reviewers for their valuable suggestions. Support to this research was provided by the Italian share of the CORE Organic II project ‘Coordinating organic plant breeding activities for diversity (COBRA)’ funded by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Tourism Policy.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human participants and/or animals

Not applicable.

Informed consent

Not applicable.


  1. Abad, M. J., Ansuategui, M., & Bermejo, P. (2007). Active antifungal substances from natural sources. Arkivoc, 7, 116–145.Google Scholar
  2. Ajayi, O. E., Appel, A. G., & Fadamiro, H. Y. (2014). Phytotoxicity of some essential oil components to cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.) seeds. International Journal of Plant Biology & Research, 2(4), 1024.Google Scholar
  3. Angelini, L. G., Carpanese, G., Cioni, P. L., Morelli, I., Macchia, M., & Flamini, G. (2003). Essential oils from Mediterranean Lamiaceae as weed germination inhibitors. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 51, 6158–6164. Scholar
  4. Annicchiarico, P. (2008). Adaptation of cool-season grain legume species across climatically contrasting environments of southern Europe. Agronomy Journal, 100, 1647–1654. Scholar
  5. Arshad, Z., Hanif, M. A., Qadri, R. W. K., & Khan, M. (2014). Role of essential oils in plant diseases protection: A review. International Journal of Chemical and Biochemical Sciences, 6, 11–17.Google Scholar
  6. Batish, D. R., Singh, H. P., Kohli, R. K., & Kaur, S. (2008). Eucalyptus essential oil as a natural pesticide. Forest Ecology and Management, 256, 2166–2174. Scholar
  7. Bretag, T. W., Keane, P. J., & Price, T. V. (2006). The epidemiology and control of ascochyta blight in field peas: A review. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 57, 883–902. Scholar
  8. Carrouée, B., & Gatel, F. (1995). Peas: Utilization in animal feeding (2nd ed.). Paris: UNIP-ITCF.Google Scholar
  9. Carrouée, B., Crépon, K., & Peyronnet, C. (2003). Les protéagineux: intérêt dans les systèmes de production fourragers français et européens. Fourrages, 174, 163–182.Google Scholar
  10. Christian, E. J. (2007). Plant extracted essential oils as a contact fungicide seed treatment for organic corn. Retrospective theses and dissertations. 14549. Iowa State University Digital Repository. Accessed 1 Aug 2019
  11. Davidson, J. A., & Kimber, R. B. E. (2007). Integrated disease management of ascochyta blight in pulse crops. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 119, 99–110. Scholar
  12. De Almeida, L. F. R., Frei, F., Mancini, E., De Martino, L., & De Feo, V. (2010). Phytotoxic activities of Mediterranean essential oils. Molecules, 15, 4309–4323. Scholar
  13. De Martino, L., Roscigno, G., Mancini, E., De Falco, E., & De Feo, V. (2010). Chemical composition and antigerminative activity of the essential oils from five Salvia species. Molecules, 15, 735–746. Scholar
  14. El-Mougy, N. S., Abdel-Kader, M. M., Aly, M. D. E., & Lashin, S. M. (2012). Application of fungicides alternatives as seed treatment for controlling root rot of some vegetables in pot experiments. Advances in Life Sciences, 2, 57–64. Scholar
  15. Enan, E., Beigler, M., & Kende, A. (1998). Insecticidal action of terpenes and phenols to cockroaches: Effect on octopamine receptors. In Proceedings of the International Symposium on Plant Protection, Gent, Belgium.Google Scholar
  16. Hickling, D. (2003). Canadian feed peas industry guide (3rd ed.). Winnipeg: Pulse Canada.Google Scholar
  17. Isman, M. B. (2000). Plant essential oils for pest and disease management. Crop Protection, 19, 603–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Isman, M. B., & Machial, C. M. (2006). Pesticides based on plant essential oils: From traditional practice to commercialization. In M. Rai & M. C. Carpinella (Eds.), Naturally occurring bioactive compounds. Advances in Phytomedicine, vol. 3 (pp. 29–44). Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ISTA. (1999). International rules for seed testing. Seed Science and Technology, 27, 178 supplement.Google Scholar
  20. Kasselaki, A. M., Goumas, D., Tamm, L., Fuchs, J., Cooper, J., & Leifert, C. (2011). Effect of alternative strategies for the disinfection of tomato seed infected with bacterial canker (Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis). NJAS-Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences, 58, 145–147. Scholar
  21. Khan, T. N., Timmerman-Vaughan, G. M., Rubiales, D., Warkentin, T. D., Siddique, K. H. M., Erskine, W., & Barbetti, M. J. (2013). Didymella pinodes and its management in field pea: Challenges and opportunities. Field Crops Research, 148, 61–77. Scholar
  22. Kumar, N. (2016). Preservative potential of cumin essential oil for Pisum sativum L. during storage. Journal of Plant Protection Research, 56, 203–210. Scholar
  23. Kumar, L., Verma, S. C., Sharma, P. I., Bhardwage, B. D., & Thakur, A. K. (2016). Evaluation of some essential oils against pulse beetle (Callosobruchus chinensis L.) in pea seeds. Advances in Plants & Agriculture Research, 5, 585–591. Scholar
  24. Limonard, T. (1966). A modified blotter test for seed health. Netherlands Journal of Plant Pathology, 72, 319–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lo Cantore, P., Shanmugaiah, V., & Iacobellis, N. S. (2009). Antibacterial activity of essential oil components and their potential use in seed disinfection. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 57, 9454–9461. Scholar
  26. Marinelli, E., Orzali, L., Lotti, E., & Riccioni, L. (2012). Activity of some essential oils against pathogenic seed borne fungi on legumes. Asian Journal of Plant Pathology, 6, 66–74. Scholar
  27. Mbega, E. R., Mortensen, C. N., Mabagala, R. B., & Wulff, E. G. (2012). The effect of plant extracts as seed treatments to control bacterial leaf spot of tomato in Tanzania. Journal of General Plant Pathology, 78, 277–286. Scholar
  28. Misra, G., & Pavlostathis, S. G. (1997). Biodegradation kinetics of monoterpenes in liquid and in soil-slurry system. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 47, 572–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Muehlbauer, F. J., & Chen, W. (2007). Resistance to ascochyta blights of cool season food legumes. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 119, 135–141. Scholar
  30. Nguefack, J., Leth, V., Dongmo, J. B. L., Torp, J., Zollo, P. H. A., & Nyasse, S. (2008). Use of three essential oils as seed treatments against seed-borne fungi of rice (Oryza sativa L.). American-Eurasian Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Science, 4, 554–560.Google Scholar
  31. Orzali, L., Luison, D., & Riccioni, L. (2014). Utilizzo di principi attivi di origine naturale per la concia delle sementi e per il controllo delle malattie trasmesse per seme. Dal Seme, 9(4), 46–48.Google Scholar
  32. Orzali, L., Corsi, B., Forni, C., & Riccioni, L. (2017). Chitosan in agriculture: A new challenge for managing plant disease. In E. A. Shalaby (Ed.), Biological activities and application of marine polysaccharides (pp. 17–36). InTech Open Science.
  33. Paudel, V. R., & Gupta, V. N. P. (2008). Effect of some essential oils on seed germination and seedling length of Parthenium hysterophorous L. Ecoprint: An International Journal of Ecology, 15, 69–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rabadia, A. G., Kamat, S., & Kamat, D. (2011). Antifungal activity of essential oils against fluconazole resistant fungi. International Journal of Phytomedicine, 3, 506–510.Google Scholar
  35. Radaelli, M., Silva, B. P. D., Weidlich, L., Hoehne, L., Flach, A., Costa, L. A. M. A. D., & Ethur, E. M. (2016). Antimicrobial activities of six essential oils commonly used as condiments in Brazil against Clostridium perfringens. Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, 47, 424–430. Scholar
  36. Raut, J. S., & Karuppayil, S. M. (2014). A status review on the medicinal properties of essential oils. Industrial Crops and Products, 62, 250–264. Scholar
  37. Riccioni, L., & Orzali, L. (2011). Activity of tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris Linneus) essential oils against some pathogenic seed borne fungi. Journal of Essential Oil Research, 23, 43–47. Scholar
  38. Riccioni, L., Orzali L. & Marinelli E. (2013). Seed treatment with essential oils. In: Book of abstracts of the International Conference ‘Future IPM in Europe’, March, 19–21 2013, Riva del Garda, Italy. No. 52.Google Scholar
  39. Rolli, E., Marieschi, M., Maietti, S., Sacchetti, G., & Bruni, R. (2014). Comparative phytotoxicity of 25 essential oils on pre-and post-emergence development of Solanum lycopersicum L.: A multivariate approach. Industrial Crops and Products, 60, 280–290. Scholar
  40. Saeed, M. F., Baćanović, J., Bruns, C., Schmidt, H., & Finckh, M. R. (2017). Seed health of organic peas and faba beans and its effects on the health of the harvested grains. Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection, 124, 331–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schmidt, H., Philipps, L., Welsh, J. P., & von Fragstein, P. (1999). Legume breaks in stockless organic farming rotations: Nitrogen accumulation and influence on the following crops. Biological Agriculture and Horticulture, 17, 159–170. Scholar
  42. Šišic, A., Baćanović-Šišic, J., Karlovsky, P., Wittwer, R., Walder, F., Campiglia, E., Radicetti, E., Friberg, H., Baresel, J. P., & Finckh, M. R. (2018). Roots of symptom-free leguminous cover crop and living mulch species harbor diverse Fusarium communities that show highly variable aggressiveness on pea (Pisum sativum). PLoS ONE, 13(2), e0191969. Scholar
  43. Somda, I., Leth, V., & Sereme, P. (2007). Antifungal effect of Cymbopogon citratus, Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Azadirachta indica oil extracts on sorghum seed-borne fungi. Asian Journal of Plant Sciences, 6, 1182–1189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sturchio, E., Donnarumma, L., Annesi, T., Milano, F., Casorri, L., Masciarelli, E., Zanellato, M., Meconi, C., & Boccia, P. (2014). Essential oils: An alternative approach to management of powdery mildew diseases. Phytopathologia Mediterranea, 53, 385–395. Scholar
  45. Terzi, V., Morcia, C., Faccioli, P., Valè, G., Sacconi, G., & Malnati, M. (2007). In vitro antifungal activity of the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil and its major components against plant pathogens. Letters of Applied Microbiology, 44, 613–618. Scholar
  46. Tivoli, B., & Banniza, S. (2007). Comparison of the epidemiology of ascochyta blights on grain legumes. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 119, 59–76. Scholar
  47. Zygadlo, J. A., & Grosso, N. R. (1995). Comparative study of the antifungal activity of essential oils from aromatic plants growing wild in the central region of Argentina. Flavour and Fragrance Journal, 10, 113–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Koninklijke Nederlandse Planteziektenkundige Vereniging 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Research Centre for Plant Protection and CertificationRomeItaly
  2. 2.Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Research Centre for Animal Production and AquacultureLodiItaly

Personalised recommendations