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Butterflies Extracts Show Antibacterial Activity
- Reuven Rasooly, Miriam Rothschild, Yael Gov, Paul Wolferstan, Robert Nash, Paula Do, Naomi Balaban
- Advances in Microbiology 2017 v.7 no.06 pp. 467-479
- Bacillus anthracis, Gram-positive bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, active ingredients, anti-infective agents, antibacterial properties, butterflies, endophytes, epithelial cells, fungi, grasses, humans, keratinocytes, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, symbionts, United Kingdom
- Extracts of several British butterfly species were tested and shown to possess powerful bactericidal activity against gram-positive bacteria (tested on Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus anthracis). The active compounds in the grass-feeding species were identified as hydroxylated pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) related to loline with nitrogen at C-1. Lolines are known insecticidal and insect-deterrent compounds that are produced in grasses infected by endophytic fungal symbionts. Lolines also increase resistance of endophyte-infected grasses to insect herbivores. The butterfly-isolated pyrrolizidine alkaloids appear to be novel and non-toxic to human cells such as HaCat human skin keratinocytes and Hep-2 human epithelial cells. The discovery of novel agents from butterflies could lead to the development of new antimicrobials.