Antifungal and antileishmanial properties of tropical pioneer plant seeds

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Gregory Murray, Hope College
Dr. Aaron Best, Hope College

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Seed extracts of three species of Costa Rican pioneer plants with persistent seed banks were tested for anti-parasitic activity against Leishmania tarentolae and antifungal activity against Pythium irregulare, Fusarium oxysporum and Saccharomyces cerevisiae with bioassays analyzing organism viability at various concentrations of extracts. Bocconia frutescens was highly toxic to Leishmania and Saccharomyces, but Guettarda poasana and Phytolacca rivinoides were not. Bocconia extract was not toxic to a mammalian cancer cell line (B16), suggesting potential therapeutic value for treatment of human parasitic and fungal infections. This work points to the value of using ecological patterns to guide bioprospecting for pharmaceutically promising compounds from tropical rainforest plants.


This work was supported by the Hope College Department of Biology Dean’s Office.

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