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‘Alternative sprout inhibitors to replace CIPC to ensure the safety of human health’: An AI-guided study of scientific literature

The following article was prepared by Jorge Luis Alonso G., utilizing the AI-powered tool known as The Literature, as well as the AI conversational model, ChatGPT-4.

In creating the ensuing piece on CIPC, I employed The Literature, an innovative AI-driven tool engineered by Dr. Edward Oates. This tool is capable of offering a variety of responses to inquiries pertaining to published scientific research studies. Its functionalities extend from summarizing research, conducting an exhaustive literature review, performing a numerical statistical analysis, offering a comparative therapy analysis, devising a study curriculum plan, to generating so-called “board exam” questions. The brilliance of this tool lies in its ability to tap into the wealth of information stored in the PubMed database, home to over 35 million citations from biomedical literature, a multitude of life science journals, as well as online books.

The question I posed for my endeavor was, “What are the alternative sprout inhibitors that can replace chlorpropham [CIPC] to ensure the safety of human health?” I selected “a comprehensive literature” review as my choice for the format of the tool’s output/response to my question.

The subsequent content is the complete response provided by The Literature. To enhance readability and secure a seamless narrative flow, I have utilized features from ChatGPT-4. I have meticulously employed appropriate transition words and carefully inserted spaces where needed.

Moreover, I have responded to the so-called “board exam” questions presented by The Literature, citing the relevant sources. I am confident that this additional information will assist readers in better understanding this intriguing topic.

What are the alternative sprout inhibitors that can replace chlorpropham [CIPC] to ensure the safety of human health?

Chlorpropham (CIPC) is a widely used sprout inhibitor in potatoes. However, growing concerns about its safety have necessitated the search for alternative inhibitors. Several studies have looked at different approaches to replacing CIPC, all with the goal of protecting human health.

One such study investigated the uptake and removal of chlorpropham in Dunaliella salina, a microalga used for phytoene production [1]. The results showed that the algal biomass rapidly concentrated chlorpropham from the culture media, although washing the harvested biomass with fresh medium significantly reduced chlorpropham levels. Importantly, a common chlorpropham degradation metabolite, chloroaniline, remained undetected in treated cultures, suggesting that Dunaliella cells lack the capacity for intracellular chlorpropham degradation. However, further research is required to unravel the long-term effects on carotenoid metabolism.

In a separate study, the potential use of hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HPβCD) for potato sprout inhibition through complexation with chlorpropham was investigated [2]. The study confirmed the formation of an inclusion complex between CIPC and HPβCD and showed that this complex significantly improved water solubility, thermal stability and dissolution rate compared to CIPC alone, suggesting HPβCD as a viable alternative sprout inhibitor.

Further investigation of the transcriptional profiles induced by CIPC and another sprout inhibitor, 1,4-dimethylnaphthalene (DMN), revealed their different mechanisms of action [3]. While CIPC was found to alter microtubule structure and function, thereby inhibiting cell division, the mechanism of action of DMN remains elusive. Furthermore, the study showed that the anti-germination effect of CIPC and DMN was not due to increased abscisic acid (ABA) levels.

The degradation and fate of chlorpropham has been thoroughly investigated in another review study [4]. The authors analyzed various data on degradation rates by hydrolysis, biolysis, photolysis, and thermal processes, as well as partitioning to air, water, and soil. They highlighted the discrepancies in reported degradation rates and emphasized the importance of reliable analytical data for regulatory decision-making.

An investigation of the fate of chlorpropham during high-temperature potato processing showed that all stages of the process resulted in significant reductions in chlorpropham residues [5]. However, trace residues were found in cooked potatoes and frying oil, suggesting that high-temperature processing may reduce, but not completely eliminate, chlorpropham residues.

In an effort to identify potential microorganisms for chlorpropham degradation, one study isolated Bacillus licheniformis NKC-1, which is capable of utilizing chlorpropham as a primary carbon and energy source [6]. This bacterium was found to degrade chlorpropham through hydrolysis and subsequent metabolic pathways, suggesting the potential of microbial degradation for remediation.

Meanwhile, essential oils have been proposed as potential sprout suppressants for potato storage. Two studies evaluated different essential oils and their sprout suppressive effects at room temperature [7][8]. Among them, Artemisia herba-alba and Cymbopogon citratus essential oils proved to be the most effective in suppressing sprout length and number over a 90-day storage period, suggesting that they could serve as viable alternatives to chlorpropham.

Finally, genetic studies have attempted to elucidate the genetic factors influencing tuber sprouting and dormancy release in potato [9]. In a unique study, conventional QTL analysis was combined with whole-exome capture-based bulk segregant analysis to identify genetic loci associated with tuber sprouting growth. Revealing a complex genetic architecture for tuber sprouting, several QTLs were identified as significant contributors to dormancy and sprout growth regulation.


A review of the literature indicates that several alternative strategies are being investigated to replace chlorpropham as a sprout inhibitor. These include methods such as using microorganisms for biodegradation, forming complexes with cyclodextrins, investigating different chemical compounds, and harnessing the power of essential oils. Each method has its own set of advantages and challenges that require further investigation to thoroughly evaluate its efficacy, safety and feasibility.

Based on the evidence presented in these studies, it’s plausible to conclude that there are potential substitutes for chlorpropham that can ensure human health safety while effectively controlling potato sprouting. However, further research is essential to identify the optimal alternatives, taking into account aspects such as efficacy, cost-effectiveness, environmental impact and regulatory constraints.


  1. Mazzucchi L et al. Evaluation of Cellular Uptake and Removal of Chlorpropham in the Treatment of Dunaliella salina for Phytoene Production. Mar Drugs. 2022 May 30;20(6):367.
  2. Huang Z et al. Complexation of chlorpropham with hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin and its application in potato sprout inhibition. Carbohydr Polym. 2014 Jul 17;107:241–6.
  3. Campbell MA et al. The sprout inhibitors chlorpropham and 1,4-dimethylnaphthalene elicit different transcriptional profiles and do not suppress growth through a prolongation of the dormant state. Plant Mol Biol. 2010 May;73(1–2):181–9.
  4. Smith MJ et al. Tools to study the degradation and loss of the N-phenyl carbamate chlorpropham — a comprehensive review. Environ Int. 2012 Nov 15;49:38–50.
  5. Göckener B et al. Fate of Chlorpropham during High-Temperature Processing of Potatoes. J Agric Food Chem. 2020 Feb 26;68(8):2578–2587.
  6. Pujar NK et al. Biodegradation of chlorpropham and its major products by Bacillus licheniformis NKC-1. World J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2018 Jul 6;34(8):112.
  7. Thoma JL et al. Effects of Essential Oil Fumigation on Potato Sprouting at Room-Temperature Storage.Plants (Basel). 2022 Nov 15;11(22):3109
  8. Chauhan SS et al. Chemical diversity in Mentha spicata: antioxidant and potato sprout inhibition activity of its essential oils. Nat Prod Commun .2011 Sep ;6(9):1373 -1378
  9. Sharma Combining conventional QTL analysis and whole-exome capture-based bulk-segregant analysis provides new genetic insights into tuber sprout elongation and dormancy release in a diploid potato population.Heredity.Edinb .2021 Sep ;127(3) :253 -265

Board Exam Questions

How does hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin improve the effectiveness of chlorpropham as a potato sprout inhibitor?

HPβCD enhances the efficacy of the potato sprout inhibitor CIPC by forming an inclusion complex, known as CIPC-HPβCD, that amplifies its distinctive properties. First, CIPC-HPβCD increases the water solubility of CIPC, allowing it to be more easily taken up by potato cells, resulting in improved sprout inhibition. Second, this complex also enhances the thermal stability of CIPC, allowing it to retain its structure and function over a wider temperature range, thereby increasing its efficacy. Finally, it increases the dissolution rate of CIPC, resulting in rapid release and faster onset of sprout inhibition. Thus, complexing with HPβCD significantly improves the solubility, thermal stability and dissolution rate of chlorpropham, resulting in more potent and faster sprout inhibition in potatoes. Source.

Do chlorpropham and 1,4-dimethylnaphthalene suppress growth through prolongation of the dormant state in potato tubers?

Contrary to popular belief, CIPC and DMN, substances used to control postharvest sprouting in potatoes, do not extend the dormancy period of potato tubers. Rather, CIPC affects microtubule structure and inhibits cell division. While the exact effect of DMN has not been determined, it is not associated with dormancy extension. The study showed that both CIPC and DMN treatments didn’t increase abscisic acid (ABA) levels or gene expressions in tubers consistent with dormancy. In addition, the transcript profiles of CIPC- or DMN-treated tissues differed greatly from dormant states, negating the association with dormancy prolongation. Source.

What are the tools available to study the degradation and loss of chlorpropham?

The degradation and loss of CIPC is studied using a variety of tools and methods. Hydrolysis assesses CIPC degradation in water, while biolysis studies its degradation by microorganisms typically found in soil or water. Photolysis studies CIPC degradation under light exposure, and thermal processes evaluate its degradation under varying temperatures. Partitioning studies analyze the distribution of CIPC in air, water, and soil, influencing its persistence and transport. Experimental methods calculate the environmental half-life and partitioning coefficients of CIPC. Finally, regulatory reviews and new analytical methods are advancing our understanding of CIPC degradation and loss. Source.

What happens to chlorpropham during high-temperature processing of potatoes?

Chlorpropham, a sprouting inhibitor, is considerably reduced in potatoes during high-temperature processing. Approximately 17 ± 6%, 27 ± 3%, and 22 ± 3% of chlorpropham residues remain in boiled, fried, and baked potatoes, respectively. The substance migrates into surrounding media during cooking. 3-chloroaniline, a potential chlorpropham degradation product, forms during storage, not processing, and is found as a bound analyte in raw or processed potatoes. Moreover, non-quantifiable residues were identified in baked and long-term stored potatoes. Source.

Can Bacillus licheniformis NKC-1 degrade chlorpropham and its major products?

The bacterium Bacillus licheniformis NKC-1 degrades the herbicide CIPC through a series of processes. Initial hydrolysis by a CIPC hydrolase enzyme yields 3-chloroaniline (3-CA). An inducible 3-CA dioxygenase then catalyzes the incorporation of oxygen and deamination to produce monochlorinated catechol. Further degradation of 4-chlorocatechol involves ortho-ring cleavage, suggesting that dechlorination follows. These degradation pathways highlight the potential use of the NKC-1 strain in the bioremediation of CIPC-contaminated environments, with biodegradation releasing ammonia, chloride ions, and carbon dioxide. Source.

Which essential oils have been evaluated as sprout suppressants for potatoes at room temperature storage?

Essential oils were tested as sprout suppressants for potatoes stored at room temperature. Artemisia herba-alba oil was the most effective, suppressing both sprout length and number for 90 days. Oils from Cistus ladanifer, Ocimum basilicum, Ormenis mixta, Salvia sclarea, Cinnamomum zeylanicum (bark), and Laurus nobilis also had suppressive effects. However, Syzygium aromaticum (clove) oil didn’t significantly suppress germination. Source.

Author: Jorge Luis Alonso G., an information consultant specializing
in the potato crop.
Photo: Credit Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) (UK)

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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