Mexican scientists design a new system to control the mistletoe

Mistletoe is a group of plants unable to take water and nutrients from the soil, so they have to absorb other plants, which completely depends for survival. These parasitic plants are very easily reproduced and in some cases even kill their hosts. No wonder they considered one of the major pests that afflict the world's forests. Only in the state of Veracruz it is estimated that a large proportion of its trees are already affected by this plague. This, counting both forests and urban trees.

Against this background, the Institute of Ecology, A.C. (INECOL) developed an organic product that controls the spread of mistletoe and does not affect the plant that hosts it. However, to get the compound to the area where the parasite is at times difficult, because there are parasitized branches more than 20 meters high, which is why it requested the Advanced Technology Center in Queretaro (CIATEQ) the creating a capsule to serve as a vehicle and bio-pesticide protection, as well as the design and manufacture of mechanical device that did reach the required area.

For the development of encapsulation of the active agent, management Synthesis and Formulation Polymer CIATEQ determined the physicochemical properties of bio-pesticides as well as degradation mechanism and action of the active agent, in order to determine potential interactions between the material and that capsule agent. In addition, they were reviewed and studied the various encapsulation techniques and biodegradable polymers that could be used to contain said bio-pesticide without interacting with him so he could go to the detriment of its effectiveness to control the mistletoe. Based on this, three polymers for the development of a bio-film for making the capsules were selected. The capsule developed exhibits mechanical properties such that adequate impact fragmentation and release of its contents is achieved.

The teacher in sciences, Mayra Angel, project leader, explains that the objective was that the capsules have sufficient mechanical strength to that will support the effort to which they are subjected during shooting, but at the time of influence the impact surface could fragment, so that the contents remain adhered on the branches of mistletoe gradually releasing the active agent.

So, for encapsulation technique three biodegradable polymers were selected with certain chemical resistance. The next was to test the interaction between them and the active agent formulation developed by the INECOL, which he was modified to increase its stability, in addition to impart an abrasive character and improve its adhesion and retention on surfaces where it is applied.

The result was the development of capsules composed of two layers from three biodegradable polymers that are capable of containing the active agent, detailing Mayra Angel.

"The capsule formulation is unique in the market and considers aspects such as weather conditions and humidity forested; to evaluate the effectiveness of the product, made field tests in a forest near of Xalapa, Veracruz ".

Meanwhile, for the design of the device spear the capsules they worked together Management Renewable Engineering with support from the coordination of Industrial Design, same that created a prototype of a pitcher of spheres from commercial parts and others they were designed and manufactured especially with national technology.

Was achieved an innovative prototype with a different appearance of a firearm, with the peculiarity that has a peephole precision with a power such that the capsule can reach up to 25 meters away from the shot. To tell the teacher Angel, manufacture industrially both from capsules and launcher device are technically feasible.

The development made for encapsulation is in the process of intellectual property protection; while the device has protection under the guise of industrial design. "I know so far made contact a Spanish company that was interested in the technology transfer of this development.

"It is technology that can be adapted to other needs, for example for the application of other substance that should be dosed at considerable heights such as fertilizers, biological insecticides, etc.”, reiterates the specialist CIATEQ.

The plant that feeds on other plants

Mistletoes belong to the family Loranthaceae, which includes about 40 genera grouped into subfamilies. Having no roots, take advantage water of the host tree on which they grow, causing a serious deterioration in their wood, to the extent that low commercial value, but also weakens and makes it susceptible to insect attack.

In an effort to control the damage caused by mistletoe trees, pruning producers use, but this practice limits the ability of photosynthesis of trees. As the active agent developed by the INECOL of low toxicity to other plants that are not mistletoe, now becomes very important. It has been field tested and their effectiveness has been observed in only two to three weeks.

Attached files
  • Contenido adherido en las ramas del muérdago liberando gradualmente el agente activo
  • Prototipo de un lanzador de las esferas
  • Mayra del Ángel, líder del proyecto