The objective of this project is to develop a biotechnological process for producing novel pesticides and to evaluate if these are a valid alternative to existing pest control agents either in agricultural or civil environments.
This project is articulated in three different tasks which are complementary to each other and within each task different important aspects to obtain successful results will be addressed.
- Task A: Production in bioreactor of large biomass of cells of Azadirachta indica and/or A. excelsa which express in culture the target products or intermediates; problems inherent to upstream (tissue culture, immobilisation, elicitation, metabolic pathways, biotransformation of synthetic precursors), onstream (fermentation, growth and/or production medium optimisation) and downstream (novel extraction techniques i.e. supercritical carbion dioxide extraction) will be tackled.
- Task B: Isolation, purification and structure elucidation of compounds from extracts obtained in task A.
- Task C: Bioassays of the biological activity of the products (either pure compounds or crude extracts), obtained through tasks A and B, on insects and fungi followed by product formulation and field tests.
The goal is introducing and making neem products available on the European market for crop and stored product protection and for the protection of farm animals against ectoparasistes, while at the same time striving for independence from production problems, neem seed availability, storage and contamination (aflatoxins), inherent in materials, products and services offered by developing countries.
Higher plants are a superior source for numerous natural products which may be of an elevated interest to various industrial sectors. Analgesics, cardiotonic stimulants, essential oils, natural colorants, food additives, natural pesticides and enzymes are some examples of economically interesting products which are already obtained from plants by classical means; i.e. growing the plant material in the field followed by classical extraction and purification techniques.
The most interesting products, as natural pesticides, obtained until now from plant material are the triterpenes from Azadirachta spp., i.e. azadirachtin and marrangin (potent antifeedant and/or growth inhibiting agents) respectively extracted from Azadirachta indica and Azadirachta excelsa, exclusively found in the tropics.
These products are completely biodegradable and do not have any teratogenic or cancerous effects on warm blooded organisms.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
05010 San Venanzo
35015 Galliera Veneta Padova
CB2 1TN Cambridge
ST5 5BG Keele - Staffordshire