Ian Edwin Cock1,2,*
1School of Natural Sciences, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Rd, Nathan, Brisbane, Queensland, AUSTRALIA.
2Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Rd, Nathan, Brisbane, Queensland, AUSTRALIA.
Published: April 2020
Type: Original Article
Introduction: Alphitonia excelsa (Fenzl) Benth. is a large tree that is native to the east coast and northern regions of Australia. Decoctions and infusions produced from the leaves were used by the first Australians to treat a variety of bacterial diseases. Despite this, A. excelsa leaf extractions have not been rigorously examined for antibacterial properties against many pathogens. Methods: The antimicrobial activity of A. excelsa leaf extractions was investigated by disc diffusion and growth time course assays against a panel of pathogenic bacteria. The growth inhibitory activity was quantified by MIC determination. Toxicity was determined using the Artemia franciscana nauplii bioassay. Results: Polar to mid-polarity A. excelsa leaf solvent extractions inhibited the growth of a wide range of bacterial species. Growth of both gram positive and gram negative bacteria was inhibited by the A. excelsa leaf extracts to approximately the same extent. The methanolic extracts were the most potent growth inhibitor against all bacteria tested. The methanolic, aqueous and ethyl acetate A. excelsa leaf extracts were particularly potent inhibitors of P. mirabilis growth, with MIC values as low as 118μg/mL for the methanolic extract. A. hydrophilia, E. coli, K. pneumonia, S. marcenscens and B. cereus were also particularly susceptible to the methanolic extract, with MIC values generally substantially <1000 μg/mL. The antibacterial activity of the methanolic A. excelsa leaf extract was further investigated by growth time course assays which showed significant growth inhibition in cultures of P. mirabilis and B. cereus within 1 h of exposure. All extracts were determined to be nontoxic in the Artemia franciscana nauplii bioassay, indicating their safety for internal use as well as for topical uses. Conclusion: The lack of toxicity of the A. excelsa leaf extracts and their growth inhibitory bioactivity against a panel of pathogenic bacteria partially validate the traditional usage of this species to treat bacterial diseases and indicate their potential in the development of antiseptic agents.
Key words: Rhamnaceae, Soap tree, Red ash, Australian plants, Antibacterial activity, Medicinal plants.