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Bailón-Salas, A. M., Ordaz-Diaz, L. A., López-Serrano, P. M., Flores-Villegas, M. Y., and Dominguez-Calleros, P. A. (2021). "Wastewater as a resource for pest control: An overview," BioResources 16(3), Page numbers to be added.


Pests have a negative impact on the economy and the environment. There is an increased urgency for adequate pest control because many pests show high adaptation and climate change has created favorable circumstances for pests. For pest control, synthetic chemicals are used that are lethal to non-target organisms and are toxic to pollinators and aquatic invertebrates. Chemical compounds in plants and derivatives from lignocellulosic materials act against pests. The wastewater from lignocellulosic biomass is a potential source of new compounds with bactericidal, fungicidal, and pesticidal effects that have demonstrated inhibitory activity against plant pathogens. Fungicidal, nematicidal, insecticidal, larvicidal, and bactericidal activities have been proven. Inorganic and organic compounds, such as phenols, aldehydes, esters, and furanics, are the main ones identified. Due to the antimicrobial activity of wastewater, applying it to the soil can modify the composition and structure of key microbial communities. Deep research about richness, biodiversity, functionality, and microbials is needed. This review provides a comprehensive overview of wastewater types that have been applied and possible sources to obtain potential compounds for pest control. Moreover, associated active compounds, recovery techniques, and environmental impacts are reviewed.

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Wastewater as a Resource for Pest Control: An Overview

Ana M. Bailón-Salas,a,δ Luis A. Ordaz-Diaz,b Pablito M. López-Serrano,a Monica Y. Flores-Villegas,b and Pedro A. Dominguez-Calleros a,*

Pests have a negative impact on the economy and the environment. There is an increased urgency for adequate pest control because many pests show high adaptation and climate change has created favorable circumstances for pests. For pest control, synthetic chemicals are used that are lethal to non-target organisms and are toxic to pollinators and aquatic invertebrates. Chemical compounds in plants and derivatives from lignocellulosic materials act against pests. The wastewater from lignocellulosic biomass is a potential source of new compounds with bactericidal, fungicidal, and pesticidal effects that have demonstrated inhibitory activity against plant pathogens. Fungicidal, nematicidal, insecticidal, larvicidal, and bactericidal activities have been proven. Inorganic and organic compounds, such as phenols, aldehydes, esters, and furanics, are the main ones identified. Due to the antimicrobial activity of wastewater, applying it to the soil can modify the composition and structure of key microbial communities. Deep research about richness, biodiversity, functionality, and microbials is needed. This review provides a comprehensive overview of wastewater types that have been applied and possible sources to obtain potential compounds for pest control. Moreover, associated active compounds, recovery techniques, and environmental impacts are reviewed.

Keywords: Biological control; Metabolites sources; Liquid waste; Lignocellulosic biomass

Contact information: a: Facultad de Ciencias Forestales, Doctorado Institucional en Ciencias Agropecuarias y Forestales, Río Papaloapan, Valle del Sur, C.P. 34120 Durango, Durango, México; b: Ingeniería en Tecnología Ambiental, Universidad Politécnica de Durango, Carr. Dgo-Mex Km 9.5, Col. Dolores Hidalgo, 34300, Durango, Durango, México; δ postdoctoral student;

* Corresponding author:



Pests generate negative impacts because they decrease the quality and yield of crops (Savary et al. 2019). There is increased urgency because pests generate economic losses five times more than fires (Logan et al. 2003). Additionally, pathogens and pests are highly adaptable (Wingfield et al. 2015) and climate change can favor outbreaks and their extension (Rubin-Aguirre et al. 2015; Jactel et al. 2019). More so, the level of economic loss due to injuries caused by insects and pests is multifactorial, because they depend on the type of crop, temporal nature, and spatial location (Capinera 2020).

Plants contain chemical compounds that help fight disease and insects, for instance, phytohormones and secondary metabolites. The development of insecticides started from this discovery, and produced similar but more effective chemicals (Bednarek 2012; Erb et al. 2012; Matthews 2018). In contrast, lignocellulosic biomass is a copious and cheap source for pulp and paper, textile manufacturing, and agriculture in the forms of corn, wheat, rice, sorghum, barley, and sugarcane byproducts (Reddy and Yang 2005). Cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin are the main polymeric components (Sarip et al. 2016), the latter being the second most abundant biopolymer after cellulose (Demuner et al. 2019). In the lignocellulosic biomass pretreatment, the cellulose-hemicellulose-lignin structures are altered, facilitating the hydrolysis of cellulose and increasing the fermentable glucose concentration, whereby lignin derivatives are obtained (Kim 2018). Lignin contains several functional groups, such as phenolic hydroxyl, carboxylic, carbonyl, and methoxyl groups. Biological activities of phenolic hydroxyl and methoxyl groups (Espinoza-Acosta et al. 2016) were highlighted as antioxidant or antimicrobial activities (Alzagameem et al. 2019; Jinxiang et al. 2020). In addition, chemical compounds derived from the by-products from lignocellulosic materials provide protection for pests (Villaverde et al. 2016).

For pest control, methyl bromide gas was widely used as a broad-spectrum fumigant until 2005, when it was banned (Wedge et al. 2001). Neonicotinoid pesticides have become the most widely used class of insecticides in the world (Simon-Delso et al. 2014). However, they present significant environmental impacts (Saeed et al. 2019). For example, methyl bromide produces neurotoxicity and is a stratospheric ozone depleter (Wedge et al. 2001), the fipronil is toxic to pollinators and aquatic invertebrates (Sadaria et al. 2019), and most insecticides can be lethal to non-target organisms (Simon-Delso et al. 2014). In addition, pesticides are considered a powerful biological risk because they can persist in the environment for years (Sharma et al. 2020). Chemical fungicides are widely used because they are effective in sterilizing (Lin et al. 2020). However, they have also been reported to induce resistance in fungal plant pathogens (Swett et al. 2020). For the control of phytoparasitic nematodes, fumigants have been used that have the ability to eliminate not only target organisms but also affect the microbial population in the soil (Ntalli et al. 2020). This leads researchers to search for alternatives to control pests.

The use of living biological organisms or their metabolites for pest control is called bio-pesticides (Butu et al. 2020). The demand is increasing to limit the use of chemical pesticides and to replace them with agents that have no or less negative effects on the environment (Di Ilio and Cristofaro 2020; Rashwan and Hammad 2020). Sharma et al. (2020) considered that biopesticides could facilitate increased crop production with or without minimal negative effects. Furthermore, biopesticides are biodegradable, less expensive, and possess less toxicity toward living organisms (Thakur et al. 2020).

There are different alternatives for pest control, such as genetically based resistance (Molinari 2011), integrated pest management (IPM) (Meissle et al. 2010), botanical pesticides (Lengai et al. 2020), larvicidal red-algae (Deepak et al. 2019), reductive soil disinfestation (RSD), anaerobic soil disinfestation (Huang et al. 2019), and microbial biopesticides (Thakur et al. 2020), among others. Biopesticide sources exist readily in nature (Thakur et al. 2020), and some have yet to be fully exploited and studied, for example, liquid waste.

Wastewater is a valuable source of biomolecules for different uses; by recovering these compounds, value is added, and at the same time the environmental impact in the treatment of these wastes is reduced (Larif et al. 2015; Ahmad et al. 2020). These wastes may possibly be considered one of the most abundant, cheap, and renewable resources on earth (Gonzalez-Coloma et al. 2013). It is time to change the paradigm and stop seeing them only as waste to treat them as by-products, revalue the “waste” and give them another type of value with sustainable management of these materials (Ordaz-Díaz et al. 2019).

Wastewater Types for Pest Control

The raw wastewaters used for pest control are cassava, olive mill, vinasses of wine, sugar beet, and sugarcane featuring fungicidal, nematicidal, insecticidal, larvicidal, and bactericidal activities (Table 1).

Cassava Wastewater

A feature of cassava wastewater is the presence of linamarin and lotaustralin compounds, cyanogenic glycosides that are lost in processing (Padmaja 1995). Near 5 to 7 L of wastewater are generated from a kilogram of fresh cassava root (Watthier et al. 2019). The cassava wastewater has been studied for more than 30 years for possible applications in pest management (Pinto-Zevallos et al. 2018), against insects, nematodes, and fungi (Table 1). The pest species that have been evaluated are Coceus hesperidum L., Meloidogyne spp., and Oidium sp., which are associated mainly with crops of fruit trees and tomato (Lebeda et al. 2015; Abdul-Rassoul 2016; Regmi and Desaeger 2020).

Olive Mill Wastewater

Olive mill wastewater contains phenolic compounds (Di Mauro et al. 2017). Due to the reducing power of these compounds, bacteria and plants are negatively impacted (Babić et al. 2019). The olive mill wastewater can be used against bacterial, fungal phytopathogens, and weed species (El-Abbassi et al. 2017). Pest mortality is attributed to phenolic compounds (Larif et al. 2013). Hence, polyphenolic fractions of the olive mill wastewater act as a strong natural chemosterilant (Di Ilio and Cristofaro 2020). Euphyllura olivina and Ceratitis capitata Wiedemann, globally important pests, are Mediterranean parasitoids that affect olive and fruit crops, respectively (Alves et al. 2019; Hougardy et al. 2020). The olive mill wastewater has also shown insecticidal activity against both pests and larvicidal activity against Euphyllura olivina. Furthermore, Aphis citricola, an aphid related to apple orchards infestation (Kou et al. 2020), can be controlled using olive mill wastewater, due to larvicidal activity (Table 1).

Besides being effective against larvae and insects, the olive mill wastewater has also been shown to suppress fungi and bacteria activity (Table 1).

The fungicidal activity of olive mill wastewater has been tested against Botrytis cinérea, Rhizoctonia solani, Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium sambucinum, Verticillium dahlia, and Alternaria solani (Table 1). These fungi affect various crops and the economic losses they generate are considerable. For example, Botrytis cinérea, a necrotrophic pathogen, produces severe crop losses worldwide in a wide variety of plant species (Hahn et al. 2014). Rhizoctonia solani is a root pathogen that affects cereal crops (Paulitz and Schroeder 2005). Fusarium oxysporum is a soil and seed-borne disease and is one of the main pathogens of dry rot (Tiwari et al. 2020). Fusarium sambucinum (root rot disease) and Fusarium oxysporum cause potato infection (Yangui et al. 2009; Piłsyk et al. 2015; Tiwari et al. 2020). Verticillium dahliae is a vascular pathogen that causes wilt and death of 400 cultivated and non-cultivated plant species including the tomato plants. Alternaria solani affects different parts of the plant from root rot to even cause tomato and potato rot (Yangui et al. 2009; EFSA Panel on Plant Health PLH 2014).

Pseudomonas syringae is an extracellular bacteria and is considered one of the main bacterial pathogens of plants (Mansfield et al. 2012; Xin et al. 2018). Xanthomonas campestris is a bacteria able to cause black rot infection in cruciferous plants (Papaianni et al. 2020). Due to the bactericidal activity of olive mill wastewater, both phytopathogenic bacteria are inhibited by this liquid waste (Table 1).


The vinasse, a liquid residue from alcoholic fermentation, contains various compounds such as alcohols, aldehydes, phenols, and acids (Couallier et al. 2006; Freitas et al. 2018; Fuess et al. 2018). In some cases, these compounds are undesirable. For example, in anaerobic wastewater treatment, phenolic compounds should be removed, because they participate as inhibitors (Borja et al. 1993; Ao et al. 2020). However, some of the compounds have a positive environmental and economic value.

Raw vinasse has proven useful in other fields of research. Phanapavudhikul (1999) observed an eradication of insects by adding the sugarcane vinasse to the soil, associating it with oxygen depletion. The first reports of vinasse use to control phytopathogenic fungi date back to 2008. It was reported that wine vinasse showed 100% efficacy in suppressing the growth of phytopathogenic fungi (Santos et al. 2008). Afterward, the sugar beet vinasse was tested for the control of nematodes in pepper crops, as an alternative to the disinfection of soil-borne pathogens (Núñez-Zofío et al. 2013). Furthermore, the vinasse compounds can be used as chemical attractants (Martins et al. 2020). Recently, in the treatment of mycoremediation, Fernandes et al. (2020) reported a decrease in the growth rate of fungi using a wine vinasse concentration higher than 60%.

The vinasses have been shown to be effective against fungi, insects, and nematodes. The fungicidal activity have been tested against Phytophthora parasitica, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. melonis race, F. oxysporum f. sp. radicis-cucumerinum, Pythium aphanidermatum, and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Table 1). The Phytophthora genus is one of the most devastating pathogens to a wide range of crop plants (El-Sayed and Ali 2020). Phytophthora parasitica is a soilborne pathogen (Meng et al. 2014). This oomycete mainly affects tobacco (Hou et al. 2012), tomato crops (Vigo et al. 2000), and the citrus industry (Boava et al. 2011). Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. melonis race is one of the most important diseases causing tremendous losses in melon fruit (Almasi 2019). F. oxysporum f. sp. radicis-cucumerinum is a vascular wilt fungus and is associated with cucumber crops (Markakis et al. 2016). Pythium aphanidermatum is the most devastating pathogen that affects turmeric and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is capable of attacking more than 400 crop species (Boland and Hall 1994; Chand et al. 2016).

Moreover, the insecticidal activity was evaluated using sugarcane and wine vinasse against Sphenophorus levis, Stomoxys calcitrans, and Oregmopyga peruviana (Table 1). Sphenophorus levis affects the sugarcane crops, Stomoxys calcitrans is a stable fly that acts as a mechanical vector for the lumpy skin disease virus on cattle, and Oregmopyga peruviana is a vine pest (Casteliani et al. 2020; Dadther-Huaman et al. 2020; Paslaru et al. 2020).

Meloidogyne incognita, a root-knot nematode damaging vegetable crops (Collange et al. 2011), also has been tested using sugar beet vinasse for pest control (Table 1).

Due to this potential, vinasse can be studied as a source of biocide for the prevention and control of various pests.

Active Compounds

Esters, acids, aldehydes, ketones, aromatics, alkanes, alcohols, nitrosamides, and terpenoids, are acting in a synergistic inhibitory manner of fungi and bacteria (Saxena and Strobel 2020). Table 2 shows the compounds present in wastewater, a diverse source (vinasses, olive mill, and cassava) that is of great interest for the control pests. Phenols, organic acids, aldehydes, esters, furanic, and inorganic compounds are the main ones.

Pest mortality has been attributed to the presence of phenolic compounds (Larif et al. 2013), due to being part of the protection system of plants against pests (Patzke and Schieber 2018). Lignin or lignin-rich biomass are a source of phenols, which can be obtained through the hydrothermal process (Peng et al. 2019). Therefore processes that contain lignin and are subjected to high temperatures will contain phenolic compounds in their wastewater, thanks to thermal hydrolysis. The wastewater contains phenols, such as hydroxytyrosol, gallic acid, ferulic acid, eugenol, oleuropein, 2,4-di-tert-butylphenol, and 4-(2-hydroxyethyl) phenol, which can be used or recovered for pest control (Table 2). For instance, hydroxytyrosol metabolite, a phytochemical polyphenol with antioxidant properties, has exhibited antimicrobial activity (Bisignano et al. 1999), insecticidal activity (Debo et al. 2011), disinfectant activity on seeds (Yangui et al. 2009), and fungicide activity (Yangui et al. 2010; Khan and Murphy 2020). The main sources of hydroxytyrosol are olive and wine (Rebollo-Romero et al. 2020). However, it is also reported in wine vinasse and olive mill wastewater (Table 2). Gallic acid, a secondary polyphenolic metabolite, is considered one of the most powerful antioxidants and has been reported in most plants (Erukainure et al. 2018; Martínez et al. 2018). From an environmental point of view, gallic acid present in agro-industrial wastewaters must be removed, due to its toxicity (Víctor-Ortega and Airado-Rodríguez 2018), because it can affect the microbial communities in wastewater discharge points. However, it can be used for the management of bacteria pathogen pests, as Borges et al. (2013) reported bactericidal activity. This phenolic compound is available in olive mill wastewater, wine, and mezcal vinasses, as an alternate source (Table 2). Ferulic acid is a phenolic compound extremely abundant and found widely in nature (Rosazza et al. 1995), showing fungicidal and bactericidal activities (Borges et al. 2013; Patzke and Schieber 2018). Based on Table 2, this compound has been reported in baijiu and sugar-beet vinasses. The eugenol (4-allyl-2-methoxyphenol) found in tequila vinasse (Table 2); it is an acaricidal agent, having fungicidal and bactericidal activities (Abd El-Baky and Hashem 2016; Shang et al. 2020). Oleuropein shows bactericidal and fungicidal activities, mainly contained in olives (Bisignano et al. 1999), and, as shown in Table 2, was also in the wastewater. Additionally, 2, 4-di-tert-butylphenol demonstrated fungicidal and acaricidal activity (Dharni et al. 2014; Chen and Dai 2015; Varsha et al. 2015), and 4-(2-hydroxyethyl) phenol showed nematicidal activity (Yang et al. 2012).

Therefore, phenolic compounds are considered a natural alternative to conventional plant protection agents (Patzke and Schieber 2018). Additionally, the recovery of phenols and the obtaining of added value products is attractive from industrial and environmental points of view (Víctor-Ortega and Airado-Rodríguez 2018).

Tequila vinasse compounds such as aldehydes, esters, alkanes, furanic compounds, and pyrans can be used for pest control. The benzaldehyde identified in tequila vinasse (Table 2) could be applicable for developing novel insecticides for agricultural use due to having been tested as agents effectively inhibiting fungi, insects, and microbials (Kim et al. 2011; Ullah et al. 2015). This compound is present in Agave alcoholic beverages such as bacanora, mezcal from A. angustifolia, mezcal from A. durangensis, mezcal from A. potatorum, mezcal from A. salmiana, raicilla, sisal, sotol, tequila, and pulque (De León Rodríguez et al. 2008). Therefore it is also found in the vinasse of each process. The ethyl butanoate, an ester, was identified in male rectal glands during periods of sexual activity in the banana fruit fly (Bactrocera musae Tryon). Therefore, ethyl butanoate could be used to control this pest as a possible biological role of these compounds in the mating system (Noushini et al. 2020). The ethyl lactate can be generated from biomass raw materials through fermentation (Pereira et al. 2011). As shown in Table 2, it is also present in liquid distillation wastes of tequila. A mix of ethyl lactate and acetic acid exhibits an antifungal effect (Sleven et al. 2016). Ethyl palmitate was identified as a component of the pheromone from the brood of bees, and this volatile compound attracts the small hive beetle, a pest of honeybees. This finding can be useful for trap development and management (Dekebo and Jung 2020). Other compounds present in the tequila vinasse, such as dodecane, tetradecane, and eicosane (Table 1), are the female sex pheromone compounds of Paranthrene diaphana Dalla Torre and Strand (Lep. Sesiidae), a destructive pest of willow trees (Minaeimoghadam et al. 2017). Therefore, the vinasse could be used to attract and control this pest. Moreover, furanic compounds with antifungal activity, such as furfural and 5-methyl furfural, can help decrease the commercial antifungal agrochemical dose against Alternaria mali (Jung et al. 2007). Additionally, 4H-pyran-4-one, 2,3-dihydro-3,5-dihydroxy-6-methyl (Table 2) is part of a mixture that shows insecticidal, larvicidal, and pupicidal effects (Ravindran et al. 2020), and pyrrolo[1,2-a] pyrazine-1,4-dione, hexahydro-3-(2-methylpropyl) (Table 2) has an antifungal function (Kannabiran 2016).

Lactic acid identified in sugarcane vinasse (Table 2) showed antifungal activity against Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Fusarium genera (Lind et al. 2005). L-Lactic acid has used as a pesticide and can be obtained through a fermentation process (Liu et al. 2013). The cyanide that is present in cassava wastewater (Table 2) acts as a natural plant defense against pests (Pinto-Zevallos et al. 2018). This is the case for the cyanogenic glycosides in wastewater that comes from the soaking stage in the manufacture of flour from cassava (Alitubeera et al. 2019).

Melanoidins are the end products of the Maillard reaction between carbohydrates and amino compounds (Cämmerer and Kroh (1995). They are found in vinasses (Table 2), and have antimicrobial activity (Kaushik et al. 2018).

It can be seen in Table 2 that the composition of wastewater is diverse. Koul and Walia (2009) mentioned that this can be an advantage because the possibility of pests developing resistance is reduced.

Techniques for Target Compounds Recovery

The direct application of raw wastewater has been the most used for the evaluation of the power against pests. However, it is possible to recover the target compounds.

For the compound’s recovery in rich phenolic wastewater, magnetic extraction, ultrasound-assisted extraction, solvent extraction, adsorption, or combined processes, such as hydrolysis-purification and extraction-adsorption, are used (Table 3). However, sometimes the suspended matter needs to be removed by flocculation, as a preliminary stage (Azzam and Hazaimeh 2021).

Some of the solvent extraction process steps are acidification or condensing, delipidation extraction, and purification used for phenol recovery in olive mill wastewater (Deng et al. 2017; Çelik et al. 2020). The acidification with acetic acid allows hydroxytyrosol enrichment (Debo et al. 2011), and ultrasound-assisted extraction could increase the yield of phenolic compounds (Deng et al. 2017). In the ultrasound-assisted extraction, less solvent is required (Albero et al. 2015), which makes it a more environmentally friendly technique. To remove lipids, a fraction delipidation step is employed, and hexane is the most used (Rubio-Senent et al. 2017). Ethyl acetate is the solvent more commonly used for the recovery of high added-value compounds from wastewaters (Table 3). This solvent was the most efficient for the recovery of phenolic monomers from olive mill wastewater (Allouche et al. 2004), and the system was able to reach a total recovery of polyphenols (Bostyn et al. 2009). After extraction, the resins are used in the purification step to increase the amount and purity of phenolic compounds (Çelik et al. 2020).

Despite adsorbents or chemicals used in conventional treatment (absorption and extraction) are cheaper than advanced treatments, both show high efficiencies (Villegas et al. 2016). It is even possible to reduce costs further with the use of low-cost adsorption media (Daragon et al. 2014).

Table 4 shows that certain wastewater types can have high lignin content, such as wheat straw and kraft pulping effluent. In fact, the dark color in cassava wastewater is due to the presence of lignin breakdown products and lignin phenols (Zhang et al. 2017). Lignin can be used as a raw material in the production of aromatic monomers (Gu et al. 2020). Currently, catalytic hydrothermal depolymerization has been used to obtain phenolic monomers from lignin (Roy et al. 2020), with the yield increasing 49% and 83% when using mannitol and sucrose addition (Gu et al. 2020).

Environmental Impacts

For pest control, the use of compounds in wastewater should be discussed relative to potential environmental impacts. This source is a new field of research and the possible negative or positive effects have not been studied in depth.

As previously discussed, the positive effect of wastewater use on pests has been shown. However, when the wastewater is in contact with parts of the plants, with the soil, or is infiltrated into underground water, the effects are unclear. Possible environmental negative and positive impacts of the use of wastewater for pest control are shown in Table 5.

Positive Impacts

The positive impact, in general, is that wastewaters rich in nutrients are considered as an alternative fertilizer, bringing enhanced crop growth, water-holding capacity improvement, and microbial communities in wastewater coadjutant to phenolic degradation in soil (Table 5). Moreover, better soil basal respiration has been reported in cassava wastewater (Table 5), and the increase in CO2 produced in soil respiration is associated with the improvement biological activity of organisms (Phillips and Nickerson 2015). The treated olive mill wastewater germination index increases and water-holding capacity with raw wastewater is improved and does not contain high heavy metal levels (Table 5).

Negative Impacts

The raw and concentrated wastewater show negative impacts, for instance, concentrated olive mill wastewater blocked seed germination, and an initial toxic effect on soil fungal activity were identified (Table 5). Sassi et al. (2006) reported a dilution of 1/16 to guarantee full germination. High salt content in vinasse can cause vegetation cover decrease and changes in the structure and porosity of the soil (Tejada et al. 2009). When wastewaters are added to the soil, the organic matter accumulation in the soil affects penetration resistance and water repellency (Albalasmeh et al. 2019). A pre-treatment is recommended before applying it to the soil (Abegunrin et al. 2016). To avoid soil hydrophobicity and methane emissions (Table 5), a flocculation process can help.

Wastewater reviewed in this paper contained compounds with antimicrobial activity (Table 2). Therefore, care must be taken when applying it to the soil, as it can modify the composition and structure of key microbial communities. Hence, more research addressed toward microbial communities’ impacts on the soil is needed, with a focus on richness, biodiversity, functionality, and microbial adaptability.

To avoid most of the negative environmental impacts associated with raw and concentrated wastewater for pest control, compound recovery processes with fungicidal, acaricidal, nematicidal, bactericidal, and insecticidal activities can be exploited. However, it is necessary to assess the economic and environmental benefits of both options, with more in-depth research.

Otherwise, there is another wastewater type with compounds that can inhibit pests; for example, pulp and paper mill effluent, which is a chlorophenol source (Cheng et al. 2015). Chlorophenols used as herbicides or fungicides on crops were banned, due to human carcinogenic risk (Owuor 2003; Badanthadka and Mehendale 2014). Therefore, pulp and paper mill effluent is not susceptible to use as a source for control pests.

Humans and animals as part of the environment can also be affected by the use of compounds that help control pests and plant diseases. Lin et al. (2020) mention that the use of chemical fungicides in fruits or vegetables could modify the composition of the intestinal microbiota. Therefore, a more complete study is required on the application of wastewater in pest control, either as a direct application or compounds recovery of interest, considering the present economic-environmental impact.


  1. Wastewater is a potential and alternative source of compounds with bactericidal, fungicidal, and pesticidal effects that have demonstrated inhibitory activity.
  2. The phenolic compounds are mainly responsible for pest mortality using wastewater.
  3. Because wastewater is a variable chemical composition, its use can be dangerous for the environment. Therefore, the isolation of target compound is recommended.


The support of the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACyT) is gratefully appreciated for the support of the Sistema Nacional de Investigadores (SNI) and the postdoctoral scholarship (130780/20) received by one of the writers.


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Article submitted: January 24, 2021; Peer review completed: May 8, 2021; Revisions accepted: May 12, 2021; Published: May 14, 2021.

DOI: 10.15376/biores.16.3.Bailon-Salas