Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 10504–10514 | Cite as

Iron and iron oxide nanoparticles are highly toxic to Culex quinquefasciatus with little non-target effects on larvivorous fishes

  • Kadarkarai Murugan
  • Devakumar Dinesh
  • Devaraj Nataraj
  • Jayapal Subramaniam
  • Pandiyan Amuthavalli
  • Jagannathan Madhavan
  • Aruliah Rajasekar
  • Mariappan Rajan
  • Kulandhaivel Palani Thiruppathi
  • Suresh Kumar
  • Akon Higuchi
  • Marcello Nicoletti
  • Giovanni Benelli
Plant-borne compounds and nanoparticles: challenges for medicine, parasitology and entomology


The control of filariasis vectors has been enhanced in several areas, but there are main challenges, including increasing resistance to insecticides and lack of cheap and eco-friendly products. The toxicity of iron (Fe0) and iron oxide (Fe2O3) nanoparticles has been scarcely investigated yet. We studied the larvicidal and pupicidal activity of Fe0 and Fe2O3 nanoparticles against Culex quinquefasciatus. Fe0 and Fe2O3 nanoparticles produced by green (using a Ficus natalensis aqueous extract) and chemical nanosynthesis, respectively, were analyzed by UV–Vis spectrophotometry, FT-IR spectroscopy, XRD analysis, SEM, and EDX assays. In larvicidal and pupicidal experiments on Cx. quinquefasciatus, LC50 of Fe0 nanoparticles ranged from 20.9 (I instar larvae) to 43.7 ppm (pupae) and from 4.5 (I) to 22.1 ppm (pupae) for Fe2O3 nanoparticles synthesized chemically. Furthermore, the predation efficiency of the guppy fish, Poecilia reticulata, after a single treatment with sub-lethal doses of Fe0 and Fe2O3 nanoparticles was magnified. Overall, this work provides new insights about the toxicity of Fe0 and Fe2O3 nanoparticles against mosquito vectors; we suggested that green and chemical fabricated nano-iron may be considered to develop novel and effective pesticides.


Biological control Iron nanoparticles Lymphatic filariasis Green synthesis Guppy fish 



Four anonymous reviewers improved an earlier version of our work. The authors are grateful to the Professor and Head, Department of Zoology, Bharathiar University for the laboratory facilities providing for this experiment. D. Dinesh is grateful to the Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship, University Grant Commissions, New Delhi, India for the financial support. Project File No. F1­17.1/2016­17/RGNF­2015­17­SC­TAM­27906/ (SA­III/Website).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kadarkarai Murugan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Devakumar Dinesh
    • 1
  • Devaraj Nataraj
    • 3
  • Jayapal Subramaniam
    • 1
    • 4
  • Pandiyan Amuthavalli
    • 1
  • Jagannathan Madhavan
    • 5
  • Aruliah Rajasekar
    • 6
  • Mariappan Rajan
    • 7
  • Kulandhaivel Palani Thiruppathi
    • 3
  • Suresh Kumar
    • 8
  • Akon Higuchi
    • 9
  • Marcello Nicoletti
    • 10
  • Giovanni Benelli
    • 11
    • 12
  1. 1.Division of Entomology, Department of Zoology, School of Life SciencesBharathiar UniversityCoimbatoreIndia
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyThiruvalluvar UniversityVelloreIndia
  3. 3.Department of PhysicsBharathiar UniversityCoimbatoreIndia
  4. 4.Division of Vector Biology and Control, Department of Zoology, Faculty of ScienceAnnamalai UniversityCuddaloreIndia
  5. 5.Solar Energy Laboratory, Department of ChemistryThiruvalluvar UniversityVelloreIndia
  6. 6.Department of BiotechnologyThiruvalluvar UniversityVelloreIndia
  7. 7.Department of Natural Products Chemistry, School of ChemistryMadurai Kamaraj UniversityMaduraiIndia
  8. 8.Department of Medical Microbiology and ParasitologyUniversiti Putra MalaysiaSerdangMalaysia
  9. 9.Department of Chemical and Materials EngineeringNational Central UniversityTaoyuanTaiwan
  10. 10.Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Department of Environmental BiologySapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  11. 11.Department of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  12. 12.The BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPisaItaly

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