Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 101, Issue 1, pp 253–286 | Cite as

Identification and characterization of antibacterial compound(s) of cockroaches (Periplaneta americana)

  • Salwa Mansur Ali
  • Ruqaiyyah Siddiqui
  • Seng-Kai Ong
  • Muhammad Raza Shah
  • Ayaz Anwar
  • Peter J. Heard
  • Naveed Ahmed KhanEmail author
Applied genetics and molecular biotechnology


Infectious diseases remain a significant threat to human health, contributing to more than 17 million deaths, annually. With the worsening trends of drug resistance, there is a need for newer and more powerful antimicrobial agents. We hypothesized that animals living in polluted environments are potential sources of antimicrobials. Under polluted milieus, organisms such as cockroaches encounter different types of microbes, including superbugs. Such creatures survive the onslaught of superbugs and are able to ward off disease by producing antimicrobial substances. Here, we characterized antibacterial properties in extracts of various body organs of cockroaches (Periplaneta americana) and showed potent antibacterial activity in crude brain extract against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and neuropathogenic Escherichia coli K1. The size-exclusion spin columns revealed that the active compound(s) are less than 10 kDa in molecular mass. Using cytotoxicity assays, it was observed that pre-treatment of bacteria with lysates inhibited bacteria-mediated host cell cytotoxicity. Using spectra obtained with LC-MS on Agilent 1290 infinity liquid chromatograph, coupled with an Agilent 6460 triple quadruple mass spectrometer, tissues lysates were analysed. Among hundreds of compounds, only a few homologous compounds were identified that contained the isoquinoline group, chromene derivatives, thiazine groups, imidazoles, pyrrole-containing analogs, sulfonamides, furanones, and flavanones and known to possess broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties and anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, and analgesic properties. Further identification, characterization, and functional studies using individual compounds can act as a breakthrough in developing novel therapeutics against various pathogens including superbugs.


Cockroach Antibacterials Superbugs 


Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


This study was funded by the FRGS, Malaysia, as well as the Higher Education Commission, Pakistan.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Salwa Mansur Ali
    • 1
  • Ruqaiyyah Siddiqui
    • 1
  • Seng-Kai Ong
    • 1
  • Muhammad Raza Shah
    • 2
  • Ayaz Anwar
    • 2
  • Peter J. Heard
    • 1
  • Naveed Ahmed Khan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science and TechnologySunway UniversitySubang JayaMalaysia
  2. 2.International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, H.E.J. Research Institute of ChemistryUniversity of KarachiKarachiPakistan

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