Antimicrobial and chemical analyses of selected bulbine species.
The use of plant materials for the treatment of various diseases is very common in African countries. As traditional medicine used by the rural people does not always have a proper scientific basis, research programmes have to be undertaken to evaluate their therapeutic efficacy and safety. In traditional African medicine various Bulbine species are used to treat a number of conditions including sexually transmitted diseases, wound infections, dysentery and urinary tract infections. The Bulbine species belong to the family Asphodelaceae. There are over fifty South African Bulbine species and they are mostly herbs. Their leaves are evergreen and succulent in appearance. Bulbine species have thick fleshy tuberous roots, are easy to grow, are able to withstand drought and heat and are able to grow in poor soil. There is very little documented information on the antimicrobial activity and chemical properties of the Bulbine species. Therefore research programmes of this nature have to be undertaken. Various Bulbine species, viz., B. natalensis Bak, B. frutescens Willd (yellow flowers), B. narcissifalia Salm Dyck, B. abyssinica A Rich and B. frutescens Willd (orange flowers) were collected. The plants were washed with tap water, air dried and separated into the different components. Each component was cut into small pieces and immersed in methanol: dichloromethane (1:1, v/v) for extraction. The organic solvent was decanted from the plant material and evaporated under reduced pressure. The resultant crude extracts were stored in glass vials in the freezer. In addition, the roots, stems and leaves of B. natalensis and B. frutescens (yellow flowers) were extracted aqueously. The crude organic and aqueous were subjected to various tests to evaluate their antimicrobial and cytotoxic potential. To evaluate their antibacterial activities, the Disk Diffusion and Bore Well Methods were employed. The crude extracts were tested against various pathogens implicated in wound and urinary tract infections and dysentery. In these experiments the Disk Diffusion Method produced better results than the Bore Well Method. The crude organic and aqueous extracts were found to be effective against many of the bacteria used in this study including K. pneumoniae, S. aureus, S. typhi and S. flexneri which are considered to be troublesome pathogens. The TLC bioassay was employed to evaluate the antifungal potential of the various crude extracts against Aspergillus and Penicillium and the Disk Diffusion and Bore Well methods were used to evaluate the antifungal potential of C. albicans. The Bulbine species displayed no antifungal activity against Penicillium and limited antifungal activity against Aspergillus. The two method used to evaluate the antifungal activity of. C albicans was chosen because C. albicans grows in a similar manner to bacteria on solid and liquid culture media. Only the root extracts of the two B. frutescens varieties were inhibitory to C. albicans. The Brine Shrimp Bioassay was used to ascertain the cytotoxic potential of the crude extracts. The majority of the extracts were cytotoxic at the most concentrated dilution (i.e., dilution 1) but not cytotoxic at the lower dilutions. The only extracts that were not cytotoxic at the most concentrated dilution were the organic extract of the root of B. frutescens (yellow flowers), the organic extract of the root of B. narcissifolia and the organic extract of the leaf of B. abyssinica. TLC and column chromatography was carried out to evaluate the chemical composition of the Bulbine species. The TLC indicate that this technique could be a valuable tool in identifying the different species in the genus Bulbine. Column chromatogram was carried out on the extract which displayed a significant amount of antibacterial activity against the bacteria used in this study. The stem extract of B. natalensis was chosen for further analysis. The stem extract was fractitioned into different fractions but unfortunately none of the chemical component could be identified. According to the results obtained in this study, there is considerable scope for further studies of this genus.