Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wild Tomatoes Yield Formula For Nontoxic Insect Repellent, Cornell Researchers Say

Date:
November 11, 1997
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Scratching the surface of wild tomatoes that bugs don't bother, Cornell University scientists discovered the plants' chemical secret for repelling insect pests: a complex, waxy substance that commercially grown tomatoes have "forgotten" how to make.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Scratching the surface of wild tomatoes that bugs don'tbother, Cornell University scientists discovered the plants' chemicalsecret for repelling insect pests: a complex, waxy substance thatcommercially grown tomatoes have "forgotten" how to make.

Related Articles


A simplified formulation of the wild tomatoes' chemical has been granted aU.S. patent on "Non-cyclic Esters for Pest Control" and could become thenext-generation nontoxic insect repellent for a long list of crops onhungry bugs' menu.

The newly patented compounds may work, in part, because they create stickysurfaces that insects don't like, and also because the compounds break downto release short-chain fatty acids, which are known to repel insects.

"We've made smaller versions of natural fats that are easily biodegraded tofatty acids," said Bruce Ganem, a Cornell chemist and co-inventor, alongwith Martha A. Mutschler, professor of plant breeding. "These are similarin structure to the natural triglycerides in our bodies, only with shorterfatty acids, and the amounts that will be on crops seem unlikely to pose ahealth hazard to humans." Ganem is the Franz and Elisabeth RoesslerProfessor of Chemistry in Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences.

Two insect larval pests, the tomato fruitworm (Helicoverpa zea) andthe beet army worm (Spodoptera exigua), cause an estimated $30million a year in damage to the processing-tomato crop inin California.The grubs bore holes in tomato fruits, allowing decay organisms to enterthe skin and spoil the fruit. But when the Cornell pest-control chemicalis sprayed on tomatoes, damage from tomato fruitworm and beet army worm isgreatly reduced or eliminated altogether.

In addition to tomatoes, the patented chemical agents are expected toprotect a wide range of crop plants and ornamental plants against more than30 kinds of mites, beetles, leafminer flies and whiteflies, aphids,leafhoppers, mealy bugs, worms and thrips, the Cornell inventors said. Andthe same insect species that are repelled from eating the plants also areless likely to oviposit (lay eggs), thus breaking a cycle of plantdestruction, the scientists added.

The Cornell scientists began their discovery process by selecting wildtomatoes (Lycopersicon pnennellii, the relative of a commonlycultivated tomato, L. esculentum) with few insect blemishes, thenwashing the fruit to obtain the natural compounds for chemical analysis.The exact mixture of glucose esters and other compounds would have been toocomplicated to duplicate, Ganem said, so they narrowed their formulation tosome simple analogs with common structural and physical properties.

"Now the chemistry is easy," Ganem said, noting that the patent coversseveral similar formulations of the pest repellent. The "non-cyclic" termmeans each compound's carbon atoms are arranged in chains, rather than inrings.

Mutschler and Ganem hope to take their invention to the next stage -- amarketable product with all the emulsifiers and stabilizers that areexpected by consumers -- through a Technology Development Fund Grant fromCornell's Office of Economic Development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Wild Tomatoes Yield Formula For Nontoxic Insect Repellent, Cornell Researchers Say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/11/971111063834.htm>.
Cornell University. (1997, November 11). Wild Tomatoes Yield Formula For Nontoxic Insect Repellent, Cornell Researchers Say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/11/971111063834.htm
Cornell University. "Wild Tomatoes Yield Formula For Nontoxic Insect Repellent, Cornell Researchers Say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/11/971111063834.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) It looks like this 2-month-old Husky puppy and the family ferret are going to be the best of friends. Look at how much fun they&apos;re having together! Credit to &apos;Vira&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins