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Wagner, Charles [1], Robertson, Maureen [2], Robertson, Keith [2], Wilson, Mickey [3], Komarnytsky, Slavko [1], De Gezelle, Jillian [1].

Antibacterial Activity of Medicinal Plants from The Physicians of Myddvai, 13th Century Welsh Medical Text.

Reports of traditional Celtic plant medicine date back to Roman times, however a major barrier for successful integration of these remedies into mainstream practice is the current lack of accurate interpretation and scientific validation. Based on a translation of the 13th century Welsh medical text recorded by the Physicians of Myddvai, a list of 165 plants used historically for treating infections likely caused by microbial pathogens was compiled. Fresh plant samples of 107 species from this list (95 genera, 46 families, and 27 taxonomic orders) were collected during a 2 month field trip to the Isle of Arran, Scotland, and analyzed in situ for antimicrobial activity using mobile biodiscovery kits with human saliva as a source of bacteria for screening. From those plants, 67 species (62.6%) were found to have detectable levels of antimicrobial activity. The families Asteraceae, Amaryllidaceae, Apiaceae, Brassicaceae, Lamiaceae, and Rosaceae collectively contributed 42 species with antibacterial properties, highlighting their critical importance to Celtic herbal medicine. In a follow-up proof-of-concept study, bioassay-guided fractionation was performed, yielding antimicrobial constituents from one of the high scoring hits (juniper “berries,” Juniperus communis L.) Quantitative analysis showed both hexane and ethyl acetate fractions to have a strong antibacterial activity against a gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus, while only the hexane fraction effectively inhibited growth of a gram-negative Escherichia coli. Sabinene, a natural bicyclic monoterpene from juniper “berries,” showed the highest antimicrobial activity with MIC values in the range of 58-215μg/ml, thus validating traditional Celtic medicinal plant knowledge and the mobile biodiscovery screening approach. Using historical medical sources such as those associated with traditional Celtic medicine to guide rigorous, evidence-based scientific pharmacognosy therefore provides additional natural sources of new and alternative bioactive molecules for combating bacterial and infectious diseases, as well as inevitable antimicrobial resistance.


1 - North Carolina State University, Plant and Microbial Biology
2 - Scottish School of Herbal Medicine
3 - North Carolina State University

Keywords:
Celtic ethnobotany
antimicrobial plants.

Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Number:
Abstract ID:58
Candidate for Awards:Julia F. Morton Award