Peppermint essential oil can prevent blight in wheat

Indian researchers investigated the possibility of using peppermint (Mentha piperita) as a fungicide for agricultural use. They tested its essential oil on Fusarium sporotrichioides, the pathogenic fungi responsible for Fusarium head blight that ruins wheat crops.

The research effort received support from the Defence Food Research Laboratory. Its results were published in the science journal Pharmacognosy Research.

  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry identified the individual phytochemicals present in peppermint essential oil. These natural compounds could be responsible for the antifungal activity of the oil, which was determined using its minimum inhibitory and minimum fungicidal concentrations.
  • Scanning electron microscope imagery was evaluated to determine the morphological identity of Fusarium. The permeability of the membrane of the fungi was measured before and after treatment by evaluating the extracellular parts, acidity (pH), and total lipid content.
  • GCMS analysis identified 22 phytochemicals in peppermint essential oil. The bioactive compounds include caryophyllene, I menthone, methyl acetate, menthol I, piperitone, and pulegone.
  • When used as a fungicide, the essential oil achieved minimum inhibition of the Fusarium’s growth at a dose of 500 mcg/mL. When applied in 100 mcg/mL, it attained minimum fungicidal effect, killing half of the culture.
  • Peppermint essential oil changed the morphology of Fusarium. The higher the dosage of the oil, the more permeable the fungi became. Disrupting the integrity of this membrane caused the fungi to release extracellular material and lipids contained inside the cytoplasm. It also caused the mycelia to contort.

The researchers concluded that peppermint essential oil is a very auspicious fungicide that can protect wheat from Fusarium head blight.

You can browse the full version of the study on this page.

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Journal Reference:

Khanum F, Rachitha P, Krupashree K, Jayashree G, Gopalan N. GROWTH INHIBITION AND MORPHOLOGICAL ALTERATION OF FUSARIUM SPOROTRICHIOIDES BY MENTHA PIPERITA ESSENTIAL OIL. Pharmacognosy Research. 2017;9(1):74. DOI: 10.4103/0974-8490.199771

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