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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Miami, Florida » Subtropical Horticulture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #394914

Research Project: Mitigation of Invasive Pest Threats to U.S. Subtropical Agriculture

Location: Subtropical Horticulture Research

Title: High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography to Identify Components of Tea Tree Oil Attractive to Male Mediterranean Fruit Flies (Diptera: Tephritidae)

item VAZQUEZ, AIME - Oak Ridge Institute For Science And Education (ORISE)
item Tabanca, Nurhayat
item Kendra, Paul

Submitted to: Florida Entomological Society Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/6/2022
Publication Date: 6/20/2022
Citation: Vázquez, A., N. Tabanca, and P. E. Kendra. 2022. High performance thin layer chromatography to identify components of tea tree oil attractive to male Mediterranean fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae). 103rd Annual Meeting of the Florida Entomological Society. Gainesville, FL. 20-22 Jun 2022.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly), Ceratitis capitata (Wiedmann) is one of the most destructive pests of fruits and vegetables worldwide. Trimedlure (TML), a synthetic male attractant parapheromone, is currently used for field monitoring and detection of Medfly populations. However, TML is expensive and limited to a single supplier, making identification of alternative attractants a high priority need for APHIS-PPQ. Our previous research discovered that male Medflies are attracted to tea tree oil (TTO), an essential oil derived from Melaleuca alternifolia, under controlled bioassays. Preliminary separation of TTO on a preparative thin layer chromatography (TLC) plate generated five major fractions of TTO, two of which were attractive to male Medflies. Since TTO is available from multiple manufacturers, there is considerable variation in its chemical composition, necessitating screening methods to determine purity and approved variants of the oil. In this study, we used high performance TLC (HPTLC) to evaluate the variations in chemical composition of TTO obtained from different sources. HPTLC protocols were developed to improve the separation, resolution, and isolation of the individual chemical components found in TTO. More generally, this comparative analysis of different TTOs sheds light on the quality issues and the chemical complexity of the TTO. This research will lead to identification of novel, alternative attractants for male Medfly, with potential applications for improvement of detection and management programs for this major agricultural pest.