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Frontiers in Biology

Front. Biol.    2018, Vol. 13 Issue (2) : 79-90
An overview of pyrethroid insecticides
Anudurga Gajendiran, Jayanthi Abraham()
Microbial Biotechnology Laboratory, School of Biosciences and Technology, VIT University, Vellore-632014, Tamil Nadu, India
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BACKGROUND: Pesticides are used to control various pests of agricultural crops worldwide. Despite their agricultural benefits, pesticides are often considered a serious threat to the environment because of their persistence. Pyrethroids are synthetic derivates of pyrethrins, which are natural organic insecticides procured from the flowers of Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium and C. coccineum. Pyrethroids are classified into two groups—class I and class II—based on their toxicity and physical properties. These pyrethroids are now used in many synthetic insecticides and are highly specific against insects; they are generally used against mosquitoes. The prominent site of insecticidal action of pyrethroids is the voltage-sensitive sodium channels.

METHODS and RESULTS: Pyrethroids are found to be stable, and they persist in the environment for a long period. This article provides an overview of the different classes, structure, and insecticidal properties of pyrethroid. Furthermore, the toxicity of pyrethroids is also discussed with emphasis on bioremediation to alleviate pollution.

CONCLUSIONS: The article focuses on various microorganisms used in the degradation of pyrethroids, the molecular basis of degradation, and the role of carboxylesterase enzymes and genes in the detoxification of pyrethroid.

Keywords pyrethrin      carboxylesterase enzyme      mineralization      microbial degradation      toxicity     
Corresponding Authors: Jayanthi Abraham   
Online First Date: 14 May 2018    Issue Date: 28 May 2018
 Cite this article:   
Anudurga Gajendiran,Jayanthi Abraham. An overview of pyrethroid insecticides[J]. Front. Biol., 2018, 13(2): 79-90.
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Anudurga Gajendiran
Jayanthi Abraham
Pyrethroid (acronym) Molecular structure Insects
Acrinathrin (ester) Codling moth, oriental fruit moth, leafhoppers, Red Spider Mite, two-spotted mite, and African red mite
Allethrin Flies, mosquitoes, and ants
Bifenthrin Beetles, weevil, houseflies, mosquitoes, lice, bedbugs, aphids, moths, cockroaches, and locust
Cyfluthrin Aphids, cabbage stem flea beetle, houseflies, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and rape winter stem weevil
Cyhalothrin Bedbugs, beetles, houseflies, ked, lice, mosquitoes, moths, and weevils
Cypermethrin Cockroaches, mosquitoes, moths, and flies
Cyphenothrin Flies, mosquitoes, and cockroaches. It is also used to control insects that attack wood and fabrics
Deltamethrin Aphids, beetles, bollworm, budworm, caterpillars, cicadas, coding moths, totrix moths, weevils, whitefly, and winter moths
Fenpropathrin Mites, aphids, beet armyworm, mealybug, potato leafhopper, moths, leafrollers, and lacebugs.
Fenvalerate Beetles, cockroaches, flies, locusts,
Mosquitoes, and moths
Flucythrinate Bollworms, leafworms, sucking insects, whiteflies, and beetles
Fluvalinate Aphids, leafhoppers, moths, spider mites, thrips, and white-flies
Imiprothrin Roaches, waterbugs, ants, silverfish, crickets, and spiders
Permethrin Ants, beetle, bollworm, bud-worm, fleas, flies, lice, moths, mosquitoes, termites, and weevils
Phenothrin Flies, gnats, mosquitoes, cockroaches, and lice
Prallethrin Ants, bees, carpet beetle, clover mite, and cockroaches
Resmethrin Flies, mosquitoes, gnats, fleas, ticks, and black flies
Tefluthrin White grub, southern corn leaf beetle, flea beetle, and chinch bug
Tetramethrin Wasps, hornets, roaches, ants, fleas, and mosquitoes.
Tralomethrin Ants and cockroaches
Transfluthrin Mosquitoes and flies
Halfenprox (ether) Mites
Tab.1  List of pyrethroids usually detected in environmental samples
Pyrethroid mg pyrethroid/kg bodyweight of birds Fish Bees
Allethrin 2030 Toxic -
s-Bioallethrin (Esbiol) 680 Highly toxic -
Resmethrin - Toxic Highly toxic
Bioresmethrin - Highly toxic Highly toxic
Tetramethrin >1000 Toxic toxic
Permethrin >13500 Highly toxic Highly toxic
Fenvalerate 9932 Highly toxic Toxic
d-Phenothrin >2500 Toxic Toxic
Cypermethrin - Extremely toxic Toxic
Esfenvalerate - Highly toxic -
Bifenthrin >2150 Toxic -
Fenpropathrin 1089 Toxic -
Tefluthrin 4190 Highly toxic -
Cyfluthrin 4450 Toxic Toxic
Fluvalinate >5620 Toxic Non-toxic
Tralomethrin 7716 Extremely toxic Highly toxic
Deltamethrin >4640 Toxic Highly toxic
Cyhalothrin >5000 Highly toxic -
Kadethrin - Toxic Toxic
Alphacypermethrin - Toxic Toxic
Lambda- cyhalothrin >3950 Toxic Toxic
Tab.2  Acute effects of pyrethroids and pyrethroid formulations on non-target organisms Mueller-Beilsehmidt
Fig.1  Generalized pathway involved in the metabolism of pyrethroids in mammals by hydrolysis [H], oxidative [O], and conjugation [C] reactions.
Pyrethroid degrading microbe References
Bacillus cereus SM3 Maloney et al. (1993)
Pseudomonas fluorescens Grant et al. (2002)
Pseudomonas sp. Halden et al. (1999)
Cladosporium sp. Chen et al. (2011)
Rhodococcus sp. CDT3 Xu et al. (2007)
Vibrio hollisae Lee et al. (2004)
Burkholderia pickettii Zhai et al. (2012)
Erwinia carotovora Liang et al. (2005)
Ochrobactrum anthropi YZ-1 Wu et al. (2006)
Aspergillus niger ZD11 Guo et al. (2009)
Klebsiella sp. ZD112 Wu et al. (2006)
Sphingobium sp. JZ-2 Maloney et al. (1988)
Achromobacter sp. Sakata et al. (1992)
Bacillus cereus Yu and Fan (2003)
Serratia plymuthica Lee et al. (2004)
Pseudomonas sp. YF05 Saikia and Gopal (2004)
Stenotrophomonas acidaminiphila, Aeromonas sobria Preeti et al. (2008)
Yersinia frederiksenii Zhang et al. (2010)
Trichoderma viride Chen et al. (2011a)
Micrococcus sp. Chen et al. (2011b)
Serratia sp. Chen et al. (2011c)
Streptomyces sp. Maloney et al. (1993)
Ochrobactrum sp. Grant et al. (2002)
Stenotrophomonas sp. Halden et al. (1999)
Tab.3  List of microbes involved in the degradation of pyrethroid residues
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