Biotech Updates

Phytohormone Helps Plants Eliminate Pesticide Residues

October 2, 2009

Scientists all over the world have been seeking new ways of minimizing pesticide residues that remain in food crops after harvest. Now, researchers from the Zhejiang University in China may have found the answer. Jing Quan Yu and colleagues, in a paper published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, reported that application of brassinosteroids to crops can help plants eliminate residues of certain pesticides.

Brassinosteroids (BR), first identified twenty years ago, have been found to play important roles in regulating plant growth and development. They have also been implicated in plant responses to environmental stresses and in plant defense against bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens.

Yu and colleagues treated cucumber plants with 24-epibrassinolide (EBR), one type of BR, then treated the plants with various pesticides, including chloropyrifos (CPF), a broad-spectrum commercial insecticide. BR significantly reduced their toxicity and residues in the plants.  "BRs may be promising, environment friendly, natural substances suitable for wide application to reduce the risks of human and environment exposure to pesticides," Yu and colleagues wrote in the paper. At present, there is no direct evidence for harmful effects of BRs on human health.

The paper is available for download at