Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 10383–10391 | Cite as

High toxicity of camphene and γ-elemene from Wedelia prostrata essential oil against larvae of Spodoptera litura (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

  • Giovanni Benelli
  • Marimuthu Govindarajan
  • Mohamad S. AlSalhi
  • Sandhanasamy Devanesan
  • Filippo Maggi
Plant-borne compounds and nanoparticles: challenges for medicine, parasitology and entomology


The development of eco-friendly biopesticides in the fight against agricultural pests is an important challenge nowadays. The essential oil of Wedelia prostrata Hemsl. is known for its multipurpose biological activities in Chinese folk medicine. However, limited efforts attempted to understand the potential insecticidal activity of its main individual constituents and related mechanism of action. In this research, we investigated the insecticidal activity of W. prostrata against the crop pest Spodoptera litura (Fabricius) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Toxicity on 4th instar larvae was assessed after 24 h of exposure. The LC50 and LC90 of the W. prostrata essential oil were 167.46 and 322.12 μg/ml, respectively. GC-MS analyses were carried out to shed light on the oil chemical composition. Main constituents were the monoterpene camphene (9.6%) and the sesquiterpenes γ-elemene (7.6%), α-humulene (6.9%), and (E,E)-α-farnesene (7.3%). The pure constituents were evaluated for their insecticidal activity on S. litura 4th instar larvae. The most toxic molecule was camphene (LC50 = 6.28 μg/ml), followed by γ-elemene, (LC50 = 10.64 μg/ml), α-humulene (LC50 = 12.89 μg/ml), and (E,E)-α-farnesene (LC50 = 16.77 μg/ml). Overall, our experiments highlighted the promising potential of camphene and γ-elemene from W. prostrata essential oil against larvae of S. litura, allowing us to propose these two compounds for the development of newer pesticides in the fight against crop pests. Further studies aimed at evaluating the potential synergy between these two molecules, as well as their stability in field conditions are ongoing.


Botanical pesticide α-Humulene α-Farnesene Moth pest Natural product research 



The authors are grateful to the Deanship of Scientific Research, King Saud University, for funding through Vice Deanship of Scientific Research Chairs. The authors thank the Professor and Head, Department of Zoology, Annamalai University, for the laboratory provisions granted.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict 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

  1. 1.Department of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Unit of Vector Control, Phytochemistry and Nanotechnology, Department of ZoologyAnnamalai UniversityAnnamalainagarIndia
  3. 3.Research Chair in Laser Diagnosis of Cancer, Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of ScienceKing Saud UniversityRiyadhKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  4. 4.Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of ScienceKing Saud UniversityRiyadhKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  5. 5.School of PharmacyUniversity of CamerinoCamerinoItaly

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