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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Chemical Alternatives to Methyl Bromide for Post-Harvest Pest Control on Perishable Commodities

Location: Crop Improvement and Protection Research

Title: Nitric oxide as a potent fumigant for postharvest pest control

Author
item LIU, YONG BIAO

Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 14, 2013
Publication Date: December 1, 2013
Citation: Liu, Y. 2013. Nitric oxide as a potent fumigant for postharvest pest control. Journal of Economic Entomology. 106:2267-2274.

Interpretive Summary: Nitric oxide is a ubiquitous signal molecule in all biological systems and produced naturally in the environment and biological systems and was not known to be insecticidal. In this study, nitric oxide was found to be a potent green fumigant for postharvest pest control and fumigation under ultralow oxygen conditions was effective against all five insects at different life stages. The study also demonstrated that nitric oxide fumigation can also be safe to fresh products by terminating fumigation with nitrogen flushing to reduce nitric oxide level prior to venting the fumigation chamber with ambient air. Nitric oxide fumigation has the potential to offer a green solution to postharvest pest control. The discovery of nitric oxide as a potent fumigant also marks a significant departure and breakthrough from current nitric oxide research on its biological functions and applications.

Technical Abstract: There is a great demand for safe and effective alternative fumigants to replace methyl bromide and other toxic fumigants for pest control. Nitric oxide, a common signal molecule in biological systems, was found to be effective and safe to control insects under ultralow oxygen conditions. Fumigations with 0.1 to 2.0% nitric oxide under ultralow oxygen levels of =50 ppm effectively controlled insects in 2 to 48 h depending on insect species and their life stages. The fumigations were also safe to fresh fruits and vegetables when they were terminated by flushing fumigation chambers with nitrogen to reduce nitric oxide levels first prior to venting chambers with ambient air. The results indicated that nitric oxide is promising to offer a green solution to postharvest pest control.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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