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Phytochemical and pharmacological analyses of Embelia ruminata (E.Mey. ex A.DC.) Mez.

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The discovery of novel phytoconstituents to treat a plethora of ailments has become urgent as the demand for phyto-resourced products has intensified. To complement the search for new phytoceutical products, the current dissertation propelled an investigation into the phytochemical and biological potential of a South African plant, Embelia ruminata (E.Mey. ex A.DC.) Mez. The vegetative structures (leaf and stem bark) and the reproductive organs (fruit and seed) of E. ruminata were sequentially extracted using hexane, chloroform and methanol. The subsequent phytochemical analyses, which included phytochemical tests, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS) of the crude extracts revealed the presence of various pharmacologically bioactive compounds. Furthermore, the data from the radical scavenging investigations demonstrated that the methanolic seed and stem bark extracts (IC50 of 3.54 and 37.47 μg/mL, respectively) displayed potent scavenging activities compared with the standard butylated hydroxytoluene (IC50 of 91.09 μg/mL). Evidently, the radical scavenging results corroborated with the cytotoxic effects of the crude extracts, which indicated that the methanolic seed and stem bark extracts had strong anticancer activities against the cancer cell lines, i.e., breast cancer (MCF-7) and human lung cancer (A549). Additionally, silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) using the aqueous extracts of the leaf, stem bark and fruit of E. ruminata were synthesised and characterised by adopting a series of standard tests. The antibacterial potential of both the AgNPs and the crude extracts were evaluated and were distinctively more effective against the Gram-positive than the Gram-negative bacterial strains, with the AgNPs of fruit extracts synthesised at room temperature (23±2 °C) and the methanolic stem bark crude extracts showing the most promising activity. Two biomonitor strains, Chromobacterium subtsugae CV017 (short chain) and Chromobacterium violaceum ATCC 12472 (long chain), were used to test the quorum sensing (QS) violacein inhibition capacity of the respective extracts. Overall, the AgNPs and crude extracts displayed more effective QS inhibition against the long chain than the short chain biomonitor strain. Interestingly, the chloroform leaf, hexane and methanol seed extracts showed QS violacein inhibitory activities against both biomonitor strains, indicating the potential of these extracts against multiple bacterial strains. These findings provide evidence that E. ruminata is a possible source of potential medicinal compounds.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.