• alkaloid;
  • Bursaphelenchus;
  • Meloidogyne;
  • natural product;
  • nematicide;
  • nematode;
  • Panagrellus;
  • phytochemical;
  • pinewood nematode;
  • root-knot nematode



Species of Cephalotaxus (the plum yews) produce nematotoxic compounds of unknown identity. Consequently, bioassay-guided fractionation was employed to identify the compound(s) in Cephalotaxus fortunei twigs and leaves with activity against plant-parasitic nematodes.


A crude alkaloid extract, particularly drupacine, was responsible for much of the nematotoxicity. The ED50 of drupacine for Bursaphelenchus xylophilus was 27.1 µg mL−1, and for Meloidogyne incognita it was 76.3 µg mL−1. Immersion of M. incognita eggs in 1.0 mg mL−1 crude alkaloid extract (the highest tested concentration) reduced hatch by 36%; immersion of second-stage juveniles (J2) resulted in 72–98% immobility. Crude alkaloid extract and drupacine suppressed protease activity in extracts of the microbivorous nematode Panagrellus redivivus by 50% and 80%, respectively. Application of 0.02–0.5 mg mL−1 crude alkaloid extract to soil with M. incognita inoculum did not significantly reduce pepper plant shoot length or weight, compared with nematode-inoculated, water-treated controls, but the number of eggs and J2 per root system respectively decreased by 69% and 73% at 0.5 mg mL−1.


Drupacine and a crude alkaloid extract suppress nematode hatch, activity of mixed life stages, and population numbers on plant roots. This is the first demonstration of nematotoxicity of crude Cephalotaxus alkaloids and drupacine. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry