RUDN ecologists healed apples from fungus using eucalyptus

Newswise —  RUDN University ecologists have discovered that eucalyptus leaves can cure apples from fungal diseases. They can be a natural alternative to toxic fungicides. The results were published in Scientific Reports. The molds Alternaria alternata and Colletotrichum gloeosporioides affect many fruit crops and, in particular, apples. They affect not only the leaves and stems, but also the fruits themselves. Farms are affected by this and are forced to sell fruit cheaper. In addition, affected fruits are stored for less time. Fungicides are used to control pathogens, but this can be dangerous to humans and the environment. RUDN University ecologists and colleagues from Tunisia discovered that eucalyptus leaves can cope with these fungi.“Fungal infections are considered the most common diseases of fresh fruit. They lead to significant economic losses: the cost of fruit and their shelf life is reduced. Fungicides remain the main method of combating fungal diseases today. However, over the past few decades, this has been hampered by stricter regulations that limit the dose, spectrum of action, and even the use of fungicides. This is due to possible risks to human health and the environment, as well as the development of resistance. Therefore, it is necessary to look for harmless alternatives to chemicals,” Nazih Y. Rebouh, PhD, Associate Professor of the Department of Environmental Management at RUDN University said.Biologists studied the phytochemical and antifungal properties of the leaves of Eucalyptus globulus, Mastic tree(Pistacia lentiscus) and Juniperus phoenicea. All of them are rich in polyphenols, which act as protectors in plants, including against fungi. RUDN University ecologists prepared aqueous extracts of leaves and essential oils and tested their effect on toxic fungi.All leaves showed significant antioxidant activity – eucalyptus, mastic tree juniper in descending order. Phytochemical analysis showed that the composition of phenolic acids differed among different trees. In laboratory conditions, eucalyptus essential oil turned out to be the most effective antifungal agent. It destroyed the pathogen within a radius of 16 millimeters. If an infected apple fruit is treated with essential oil and aqueous extract of eucalyptus, the lesions are significantly reduced to 6.8 mm in diameter, and the overall degree of damage drops below 15%.“Eucalyptus globulus has a bright future in the fight against fungal rot of apple trees. This provides the basis for further research in the field,” Nazih Y. Rebouh, PhD, Associate Professor of the Department of Environmental Management at RUDN University said.

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