Essential Oil Applications, Melaleuca alternifolia|

The spotted-wing drosophila Drosophila suzukii is an invasive small fruit fly that causes extensive damage to many fruit crops. To control this pest, the use of aromatic plants essential oils (EOs) is gaining importance since they are bioactive, biodegradable, and ecologically safe. However, despite of the EOs proved efficacy, they still do not have a widespread application due to their high volatility, composition variability and especially their strong smell. In this study we evaluated not only the EOs bioactivity but also their effects on the organoleptic profile of treated fruits. We tested two EOs extracted from mandarin (Citrus reticulata) and tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) very different for composition and smell. Both the EOs were effective in repelling D. suzukii. However, while no negative effects on the organoleptic profiles were detected for the fruits treated with Citrus reticulata EO, the fruits treated with M. alternifolia EO were defined by the panel of experts as “not suitable for consumption”. Overall, our findings indicate that the use of EOs for the post-harvest protection of small fruits is feasible, provided that the EOs have been selected not only for their bioactivity against the insect pest but also for their affinity with the consumers’ sensorial system.

Bedini, S., et al. (2020). “Essential oils as post-harvest crop protectants against the fruit fly Drosophila suzukii: Bioactivity and organoleptic profile.” Insects 11(8): 508.

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