Hasansphaic and Zvornicanin 2017
Major in Biology
An Investigation of Nontarget Insecticide Effects of Erythritol on C. elegans and Two Common Agricultural Crop Plants

Bilal Hasanspahic, Edin Zvornicanin, Jasmina Samardzic, Andrew Rahme, Sara E. Scanga, Jessica H. Shinn-Thomas

Sugar substitutes, such as Truvia®, are increasingly gaining popularity in cooking and processed foods. Erythritol, a non-nutritive polyol, is the main component of Truvia. Previous studies showed that erythritol consumption does not affect plasma and urine osmolarity and electrolyte levels and it is not toxic or carcinogenic to rats. In contrast, erythritol was shown to significantly decrease longevity in Drosophila melanogaster compared to sucrose and other polyols with the exception of D-mannitol. Researchers have suggested that erythritol has potential use as an insecticide given its apparent safety for mammals but harmful effects on arthropods such as Drosophila. However, for erythritol to have practical use as an environmentally-friendly insecticide in agricultural settings, it must have neutral to positive effects on crop plants and other nontarget organisms, including soil and compost-dwelling animals such as C. elegans. The purpose of our research is to examine the dose-dependent, nontarget effects of erythritol on C. elegans lifespan and larval survival, and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and corn (Zea mays) germination and growth.


Dr. Daniel Kurtz
Chair of Biology

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