a1 (Senior Research Assistant for Biochemistry, Institute of Agricultural Parasitology, St. Albans.)
It was observed in laboratory experiments that the lethal action of dilute solutions of calcium cyanamide on the larvae of Heterodera schachtii was more rapid when these solutions were rendered slightly acid. This might be due to the rate of decomposition of calcium cyanamide in aqueous solutions of varying þH. The changes which cyanamide undergoes in acid and alkaline media have been described by Crowther & Richardson (1932). Solutions of commercial calcium cyanamide are moderately alkaline because of their lime content, and in this alkalinity any free cyanamide which is formed tends to polymerise to dicyanodiamide. Experiments with solutions of dicyanodiamide showed that this substance has very little toxic action on H. schachtii larvae. In acid solution, on the other hand, cyanamide is hydrolysed to urea. This substance becomes toxic when it decomposes to ammonia, but in the slightly acid solutions used the change would be a slow process. It is probable, therefore, that the degree of toxicity of calcium cyanamide solutions would be greatest where the cyanamide radicle could be retained unchanged for the longest period.