Larvicidal, molluscicidal and nematicidal activities of essential oils and compounds from Foeniculum vulgare

Rose Marie O F Sousa, José S. Rosa, Cláudia A. Silva, Maria Teresa M Almeida, M. Teresa Novo, Ana C. Cunha, Manuel Fernandes-Ferreira

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Plant-based products, namely essential oils (EOs), are environmentally friendly alternatives for the control of disease vectors, hosts and/or parasites. Here, we studied the general toxicity and biopesticidal potential of EOs and phenylpropanoids from Foeniculum vulgare var. vulgare (bitter fennel), a perennial plant well adapted to temperate climates. EO/compound toxicity was tested against a freshwater snail and potential intermediate host of Fasciola hepatica (Radix peregra), a mosquito and former European malaria vector (Anopheles atroparvus) and one of the most damaging plant-parasitic nematodes, the root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne javanica). Lethal concentrations (LC50; LC90) of EOs (infrutescences/stems with leaves) and compounds were calculated by probit analysis. All displayed noteworthy activity against R. peregra adults (LC50 21–39 µg ml−1) and A. atroparvus larvae (LC50 16–56 µg ml−1). trans-Anethole revealed acute nematicidal activity after 24 and 48 h (LC50 310 and 249 µg ml−1, respectively), and estragole (1,000 µg ml−1) showed some effectiveness against M. javanica hatching and juveniles after 15 days. Plant and EO yields were determined to evaluate the bitter fennel productivity. The chemical composition of the EOs was analyzed by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. EOs extracted from whole plants, infrutescences and stems with leaves were characterized by estragole-dominant profiles (28–65 %), considerable amounts of phellandrene (10–34 %) and fenchone (6–16 %), and minor trans-anethole contents (1–4 %). Although additional toxicological studies against nontarget organisms are required, our study demonstrates that bitter fennel is a productive source of molluscicides and larvicides, and thus a potential sustainable biological agent to control particular host species, namely freshwater snails and mosquitoes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-426
Number of pages14
JournalJournal Of Pest Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2014


  • Anopheles atroparvus
  • Biopesticides
  • Bitter fennel essential oils
  • Brine shrimp lethality assay
  • Meloidogyne javanica
  • Radix peregra


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