Tropical pepper plant could provide tool against HLB

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Tropical pepper plant could provide tool against HLB

A tropical pepper plant native to the Amazon jungle may offer a natural tool against citrus greening. Researchers from Brazil's Fundecitrus and the Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) believe that the Matico pepper plant could Piper_aduncumfunction as an insecticide against Diaphorina citri, the species behind citrus greening or Huanglongbing (HLB).

The plant found in Acre and southern Amazonas is rich in dillapiole, a compound found in dill weed and fennel root that has been found effective against pest control in India, Europe and the U.S.

The compound inhibits the detoxifying enzyme P450, causing the insect to poisin itself with its own food, such as orange tree sap.

Embrapa researcher Murilo Fazolin said dillapiole interferes with the insect's metabolism, inhibiting its ability to detox and provoking a relatively non-aggressive death.

"The compound alters the chemical warfare between the plant and the insect , favoring the plant that is under attack," he said.

Oil from the pepper could be used as an insecticide in combination with conventional products to improve efficiency. This could reduce the need for recommended commercial applications by up to 25%, Embrapa indicated.

The Embrapa branch in Acre has also found the oil effective against pests for pineapples, beans, corn and coffee.

Photo: Piper aduncum in Brazil, by João Medeiros via Wikimedia Commons


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