Insecticidal activity of indole derivatives against Plutella xylostella and selectivity to four non-target organisms

  • Ângela C. F. Costa
  • Sócrates C. H. Cavalcanti
  • Alisson S. Santana
  • Ana P. S. Lima
  • Thaysnara B. Brito
  • Rafael R. B. Oliveira
  • Nathália A. Macêdo
  • Paulo F. Cristaldo
  • Ana Paula A. Araújo
  • Leandro BacciEmail author


The diamondback moth Plutella xylostella (Linnaeus, 1758) (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae) is a destructive pest of brassica crops of economic importance that have resistance to a range of insecticides. Indole derivates can exert diverse biological activities, and different effects may be obtained from small differences in their molecular structures. Indole is the parent substance of a large number of synthetic and natural compounds, such as plant and animal hormones. In the present study, we evaluate the insecticidal activity of 20 new synthesized indole derivatives against P. xylostella, and the selectivity of these derivatives against non-target hymenopteran beneficial arthropods: the pollinator Apis mellifera (Linnaeus, 1758) (Hymenoptera: Apidae), and the predators Polybia scutellaris (White, 1841), Polybia sericea (Olivier, 1791) and Polybia rejecta (Fabricius, 1798) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Bioassays were performed in the laboratory to determine the lethal and sublethal effects of the compounds on P. xylostella and to examine their selectivity to non-target organisms by topical application and foliar contact. The treatments consisted of two synthesized derivatives (most and least toxic), the positive control (deltamethrin) and the negative control (solvent). The synthesized compound 4e [1-(1H-indol-3-yl)hexan-1-one] showed high toxicity (via topical application and ingestion) and decreased the leaf consumption by P. xylostella, displaying a higher efficiency than the pyrethroid deltamethrin, widely used to control this pest. In addition, the synthesized indole derivatives were selective to the pollinator A. mellifera and the predators P. scutellaris, P. sericea and P. rejecta, none of which were affected by deltamethrin. Our results highlight the promising potential of the synthesized indole derivatives for the generation of new chemical compounds for P. xylostella management.


Chemical control Pest control Pesticides Tryptamine 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ângela C. F. Costa
    • 1
  • Sócrates C. H. Cavalcanti
    • 2
  • Alisson S. Santana
    • 1
  • Ana P. S. Lima
    • 1
  • Thaysnara B. Brito
    • 2
  • Rafael R. B. Oliveira
    • 2
  • Nathália A. Macêdo
    • 2
  • Paulo F. Cristaldo
    • 3
  • Ana Paula A. Araújo
    • 4
  • Leandro Bacci
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Agricultura e BiodiversidadeUniversidade Federal de SergipeSão CristóvãoBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de FarmáciaUniversidade Federal de SergipeSão CristóvãoBrazil
  3. 3.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Entomologia Agrícola, Departamento de AgronomiaUniversidade Federal Rural de PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  4. 4.Departamento de EcologiaUniversidade Federal de SergipeSão CristóvãoBrazil
  5. 5.Departamento de Engenharia AgronômicaUniversidade Federal de SergipeSão CristóvãoBrazil

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