Toxicity and developmental effect of cucurbitacin E from Citrullus colocynthis L. (Cucurbitales: Cucurbitaceae) against Spodoptera litura Fab. and a non-target earthworm Eisenia fetida Savigny

  • Athirstam Ponsankar
  • Kitherian Sahayaraj
  • Sengottayan Senthil-NathanEmail author
  • Prabhakaran Vasantha-Srinivasan
  • Sengodan Karthi
  • Annamalai Thanigaivel
  • Ganesan Petchidurai
  • Mariappan Madasamy
  • Wayne B. Hunter
Toxicological Effects of Environmental Pollution


Pest management with natural botanical insecticides is a significant implementation for the sustainability of agroecosystem by reducing the unnecessary risk from the inputs of synthetic insecticides. In this research, we isolated the bioactive compound cucurbitacin E from Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad, and their toxicological effects were screened against different larval instars of Spodoptera litura. The bioactive compound cucurbitacin E was chemically characterized through TLC, FT-IR, and NMR analyses. The larval mortality bioassay revealed that the larvae exposed to cucurbitacin E at the discriminating dose of 50 ppm display higher mortality rate against second (93.8%), third (86.4%), and fourth (73.2%) instar respectively. The lethal concentrations (LC50 and LC90) was detected as 15.84 and 67.60 ppm for third instar respectively. The sub-lethal concentration of cucurbitacin E (2, 4, and 6 ppm) intentionally altered the percentage of survival, pupation, fecundity, and egg hatchability of S. litura. Moreover, antifeedant activity of cucurbitacin E was analyzed using choice-based test. In addition, we found the toxic effects of cucurbitacin E (50 and 100 ppm) and chemical pesticides (cypermethrin and monocrotophos) against terrestrial beneficial earthworm Eisenia fetida, and the result revealed that cucurbitacin E has no harmful effect on non-target organism. Hence, the present study reveals that cucurbitacin E might be a part of a new biorational product alternative to synthetic pesticides.


Toxicity FT-IR GC-MS Mortality Antifeedant Earth worm 



The authors are thankful to Rev. Dr. Anthonysamy, S.J and Rev. Dr. V. Britto, S.J for their encouragement and for providing an infrastructure facility to carry out this work.

Funding information

The author Dr. Athirstam Ponsankar was financially supported by the Science and Engineering Research Board (DST-SERB), Government of India (File number: PDF/2016/002902).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Athirstam Ponsankar
    • 1
  • Kitherian Sahayaraj
    • 1
  • Sengottayan Senthil-Nathan
    • 2
    Email author
  • Prabhakaran Vasantha-Srinivasan
    • 3
  • Sengodan Karthi
    • 2
  • Annamalai Thanigaivel
    • 2
  • Ganesan Petchidurai
    • 1
  • Mariappan Madasamy
    • 1
  • Wayne B. Hunter
    • 4
  1. 1.Crop Protection Research CentreSt. Xavier’s College (Autonomous)PalayamkottaiIndia
  2. 2.Division of Biopesticides and Environmental Toxicology, Sri Paramakalyani Centre for Excellence in Environmental SciencesManonmaniam Sundaranar UniversityTirunelveliIndia
  3. 3.Department of BiotechnologySt. Peter’s Institute of Higher Education and ResearchChennaiIndia
  4. 4.U.S. Horticultural Research LaboratoryUnited States Department of AgricultureFort PierceUSA

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