Isolating pure compounds from seeds of Bocconia frutescens to test for anti-fungal activity
Dr. K. Gregory Murray, Hope College
Dr. Michael Short, Hope College
Bocconia frutescens is a Costa Rican pioneer plant whose seeds persist for tens to hundreds of years in the buried “soil seed bank.” Previous work in our lab has shown that the longevity of these seeds is a result of chemical defense against pathogens and predators. For example, Veldman et al. (2007) identified four alkaloids from the crude seed extract, three of which were highly toxic to arthropods. My work extended this testing to fungi, and showed that the alkaloid 6-methoxydihydrochelirythrine is largely responsible for toxicity to Pythium irregulare, a known plant pathogen. Interestingly, this was the one alkaloid isolated from B. frutescens by Veldman et al. (2007) that was not sigificantly toxic to arthropods. Ongoing work in our lab will test these alkaloids for toxicity to other common seed pathogens as well, and will estimate the proportion of total toxicity that is attributable to each of the alkaloids present.
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