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Insect-repelling compounds discovered in folk remedy plant, Jatropha

Date:
November 5, 2012
Source:
United States Department of Agriculture - Research, Education and Economics
Summary:
A tip about a folk remedy plant used in India and Africa to ward off bugs has led to the discovery of insect-repelling compounds. Scientists have identified components of Jatropha curcas seed oil that are responsible for mosquito repellency.

ARS chemist Charles Cantrell has identified the first mosquito-repelling triglyceride, which he found in Jatropha curcas seed oil, a folk remedy commonly burned in lamps in Africa and India to drive off bugs.
Credit: ARS photo unit

A tip about a folk remedy plant used in India and Africa to ward off bugs has led to the discovery of insect-repelling compounds.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have identified components of Jatropha curcas seed oil that are responsible for mosquito repellency. Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Natural Products Utilization Research Unit (NPURU) in Oxford, Miss., often find effective plant-derived compounds to deter insects by gathering plants in the wild and investigating those used in traditional folk remedies. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

After learning that people in India burn J. curcas seed oil in lamps to keep insects out of their homes and other areas, NPURU chemist Charles Cantrell extracted smoke from the plant in a laboratory and analyzed its properties. Free fatty acids and triglycerides were among a number of active compounds found to be effective at preventing mosquitoes from biting.

Researchers have known for some time that fatty acids repel insects, but this was the first known report that identified triglycerides as having mosquito repellent activity, according to Cantrell.

Working closely with colleagues at ARS and the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, Cantrell is exploring additional promising compounds from other plants. By combining these or similar compounds from other plants with those in Jatropha species, scientists might be able to develop a more effective product.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by United States Department of Agriculture - Research, Education and Economics. The original article was written by Sandra Avant. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

United States Department of Agriculture - Research, Education and Economics. "Insect-repelling compounds discovered in folk remedy plant, Jatropha." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121105140205.htm>.
United States Department of Agriculture - Research, Education and Economics. (2012, November 5). Insect-repelling compounds discovered in folk remedy plant, Jatropha. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121105140205.htm
United States Department of Agriculture - Research, Education and Economics. "Insect-repelling compounds discovered in folk remedy plant, Jatropha." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121105140205.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

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