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How the humble marigold outsmarts a devastating tomato pest
According to the paper the whitefly is the glasshouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum Westwood).


Newcastle University

Scientists have revealed for the first time the natural weapon used by marigolds to protect tomato plants against destructive whiteflies.

Researchers from Newcastle University's School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, carried out a study to prove what gardeners around the world have known for generations—marigolds repel tomato whiteflies.

Publishing their findings today in the journal PLOS ONE, the experts have identified limonene—released by marigolds—as the main component responsible for keeping tomato whiteflies at bay. The insects find the smell of limonene repellent and are slowed down by the powerful chemical.

Large-scale application

The findings of the study have the potential to pave the way to developing a safer and cheaper alternatives to pesticides.

Since limonene repels the whitefly without killing them, using the chemical shouldn't lead to resistance, and the study has shown that it doesn't affect the quality of the produce. All it takes to deter the whiteflies is interspersing marigolds in tomato plots, or hang little pots of limonene in among the tomato plants so that the smell can disperse out into the tomato foliage.

Read more at:

Niall J.A. Conboy, Thomas McDaniel, Adam Ormerod, David George, Angharad M.R. Gatehouse1, Ellie Wharton, Paul Donohoe, Rhiannon Curtis, Colin R. Tosh 
PLOS ONEDOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0213071 

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