Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 63–78 | Cite as

Plants as a Source of Bacterial Resistance Modulators and Anti-Infective Agents

  • Simon Gibbons


The spread of multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains of bacteria necessitates the discovery of new classes of antibacterials and compounds that inhibit these resistance mechanisms. At present, there are no single chemical entity plant-derived antibacterials used clinically, and this chemically diverse group deserves consideration as a source for two major reasons. First, plants have exceptional ability to produce cytotoxic agents and second there is an ecological rationale that antimicrobial natural products should be present or synthesised de novo in plants following microbial attack to protect the producer from pathogenic microbes in its environment. We have been characterising plant-derived products that are either antibacterial in their own right, or modulators of resistance in bacterial strains possessing multidrug efflux mechanisms. These efflux transporters are responsible for resistance to certain antibiotics and antiseptics and occur in strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a major clinical problem at present. We are also investigating plant sources for compounds with activity against mycobacteria with a view to discovering drug leads with potential activity toward tuberculosis (TB) producing species. This paper will briefly review the literature on plant derived bacterial resistance modifying agents and antibacterials. Examples in this area from our own work will be given. The activities of plant-derived antibacterials show that there are many potential new classes of antibacterial agents which should undergo further cytotoxicity, microbial specificity and preclinical studies.


efflux MDR modulators MRSA multidrug resistance Mycobacterium plant Staphylococcus aureus 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, School of PharmacyUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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