Biological control and natural biomolecules

Study of the potential of Mediterranean plants for their bioherbicidal effect


Several experiments were carried out in vitro, in pots and in the field with a view to studying the herbicidal effect of natural components and plant biomasses.

Open field experiments were made to evaluate the herbicidal properties of dry biomasses of Brassica juncea and Origanum vulgare (Origanum vulgare L. ssp. virilidumx O. vulgare L. ssp. hirtum (link) Iestwart) after cultivation, collection and drying and of Biofence, a commercial natural product known for its nematicidal activity. Experiments were conducted on the experimental farms of Bari Univesrity and of MAI.B. 

Two experiments in the pot were made to study the herbicidal effects of the species Ruta graveolens,Origanum vulgare,Rosmarinus officinalis and Thymus vulgaris on five weed species: Amaranthus retroflexus, Convolvulus arvensis, Chenopodium album, Portulaca oleracea and Lolium perenne.

Two in-vitro experiments were made in the laboratories of Bari University in order to evaluate the germination inhibiting activity of some terpenes for the five weeds mentioned before. Carvacrol, linalool, anethole, eugenol and  1,8 cineol were investigated in the first experiment whereas thymol, camphor, pulegone and  carvacrol (the component with the best results in the first experiment) were studied in the second in-vitro experiment.

Moreover, one more experiment was carried out in the MAI.B’s lab to assess the persistence, mobility and degradation of carvacrol in the soil.

Starting: 2.12.2005
Scheduled ending: 30.05.2009
Real ending: 23.09.2019


The main objective is to gain information on possibile strategies to explore oregano (Origanum vulgare L. ssp. virilidum x O. vulgare L. ssp. hirtum) and Brassica juncea properties for the biological control of weeds.  Several terpenes are also studied to investigate their potential bioherbicidal activity. Other Mediterranean aromatic plants are also examined such as Ruta graveolens, Thymus vulgaris and Rosmarinus officinalis.  One more objective is the study of carvacrol mobility and degradation in the soil. 



Intensive applications of pesticides cause severe environmental catastrophes. Moreover, despite the intensive use of pesticides, damages caused by diseases, insects and weeds are still high. Sixty to seventy percent of pesticides applied in developed countries are herbicides. Weeds are the main problem in agriculture since they cause economic losses and reduce the quality of products. Moreover, several weed species are resistant to synthetic chemicals available on the market.  Alternatives are urgently needed also to reduce the impact on the environment.   



Aromatic plants with herbicidal activity contain phenolic compounds with herbicidal effect. Moreover, a wealth of aromatic species may be grown in marginal areas across the Mediteranaena basin. The results so far achieved show that the application of the essential oils of some aromatic species is possible as well as the integration of biomasses of these plants as bioherbicides in controlled conditions such as greenhouse vegetable growing.  These natural plant products might be useful to produce bioherbicides at industrial level.  



  • Strengths

Research in the field of bioherbicides of plant origin falls within the sphere of biopesticides. It is thus considered as a pillar among the alternative control methods. The results show that this is one of the most important lines of research in organic agriculture.

Moreover, the Mediterranean basin is full of aromatic plants which may be studied for their pesticidal effect.

The study on the carvacrol degradation in the soil has provided added value since the literature has never reported a comparable work. Such a research is a milestone for the agroindustrial sector and provides support to organic farmers who intend to apply simple methods to control weeds.

  • Weaknesses

The weakness of this research is its cost-effectiveness and the real application of these substances in the weed control.


Reference person/s: Al Bitar Lina /
Institutions involved:
Seguici su: