Cole-Parmer in Research: Ultrastructural changes in pathogens

Research on the antibacterial effect of Acacia mearnsii  De Wild against bacterial species

Plant species are one of the richest sources of useful compounds. As part of their defence mechanisms they can synthesise a wide variety of chemicals that can be extracted and utilised for our benefit, whether it is for medicine or agrochemicals. Research has previously demonstrated that plant extracts can be useful controls for pathogens and can also induce anti-inflammatory activity. Recently, Olajuyigbe et al (2018), published a research article on the antibacterial effect of Acacia mearnsii De Wild against bacterial species. This research was a follow on from a study that had determined this species to be of ethnobotanical and pharmacological importance.

In their investigations the authors set about determining the physiological impact that an ethanolic bark extract of A. mearnsii has on, human pathogens, Escherichia coli ATCC 8739, Shigella flexneri KZN, Proteus vulgaris ATCC 6830, Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 6538 and Bacillus pumilus ATCC 14884. They extracted a milled, air dried bark sample with ethanol for a period of 48 hours in a Stuart® Orbital Shaker. The extract was then filtered and concentrated before being re-dissolved in ethanol and diluted down. They were then able to commence bioassays to determine how the extract could influence cell morphology, elemental components, lipid leakage and protein leakage.

What the research demonstrated

This research demonstrated an association between the disintegration of elemental contents of bacteria species and the antibacterial properties of and ethanolic extract of A. mearnsii. They propose that the physiological effects are linked to the inhibition of peptidoglycan synthesis and the destruction of cell membrane. Further studies are required to elucidate the exact effects of the bark extract and further clarify the usefulness of the chemicals as antibacterial agents.

Author: Dr J J Lock


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