Screening Extracts from the Tropical Pioneer Plants Bocconia frutescens, Guettarda poasana, and Phytolacca rivinoides for Anti-Parasitic Activity

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Aaron Best, Hope College
Dr. K. Gregory Murray, Hope College
Dr. Michael Short, Hope College
Dr. Dereje Desta, Hope College

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This research was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant.


Seeds of three species of Costa Rican pioneer plants were tested for anti-parasitic activity against Leishmania tarentolae. Initial screening of crude seed extracts revealed leishmanicidal activity in Bocconia frutescens with an IC50 value of 2.61 µg/mL. Further fractionation and compound identification revealed four benzophenanthridine compounds in the Bocconia seed extract, all of which showed leishmanicidal activity with IC50 values in the ranges of 10-20 µg/mL. Preliminary data show low mammalian toxicity of these compounds, suggesting potential for medicinal use.

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