Foliar secretory cavities of Vepris lanceolata (Lam.) G. Don (Rutaceae): micromorphology and chemical composition of the secretion.
Nxumalo, Nozipho Ntombikayise.
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Secretory structures such as ducts, trichomes and cavities consist of cells that are primary sites synthesizing essential oils and other phytochemical compounds with medicinal properties. Little is known about the micromorphology of secretory structures and the composition of the chemical constituents. There was no information documented on the micromorphology of secretory structures of Vepris lanceolata (Lam.) G. Don (Rutaceae family). The aim of this research was to investigate the micromorphological characteristics of foliar secretory cavities, the chemical composition of the secretion, and the antibacterial activity of leaf extracts of Vepris lanceolata. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) images by chemical fixation and freeze drying revealed no external secretory structures on the surfaces of leaves. SEM images by freeze-fracture showed secretory cavities present in the leaf blade. The cavities were embedded amongst palisade and spongy parenchyma cells, next to the vascular bundle. Cavities were made up of the lumen surrounded by varying layers of epithelial cells, depending on the secretory phase of the cavity. Semi-thin and ultra-thin sections showed that foliar cavities develop schizo-lysigenously, i.e. cavities develop by both separation and degradation of epithelial cells. Transmission electron microscope (TEM) sections showed that during the secretory stage, secretory cells contained oil droplets, vacuoles and vesicles indicating active secretion. Histochemical assays of fresh leaves showed the localization of phytochemical compounds. Cavities turned orange red when stained with Sudan III indicating the presence of lipids and pink with NADI reagent to show essential oils. Cavities also stained positive for polysaccharides, sugars, phenolic compounds, proteins and alkaloids. Phytochemical screening showed the presence of alkaloids, glycosides, carbohydrates, proteins, tannins, phenolic compounds, flavonoids, fixed oils and fats. Preliminary thin layer chromatography (TLC) showed separation of bands indicating groups of active compounds in leaf extracts. Crude (ethanolic and methanolic) and water extracts of leaves showed antibacterial activity against gram positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 25923) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC BAA-1683); and five strains of gram-negative bacteria: Escherichia coli (ATCC 25922), Escherichia coli (carbapenem-resistant) (ATCC BAA 2340), Klebsiella pneumonia (ATCC 314588), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 27853), as well as Salmonella typhimurium (ATCC14026) according to the disc diffusion method. Leaf extracts have tannins, alkaloids, flavonoids, essential oil and flavonoids responsible for the antimicrobial activity of the plant.