Background: Tropaeolum pentaphyllum
Lam. tubers (Tropaeolaceae) are known and used as a condiment and for the treatment of skin infections in Southern Brazil. However, its activity and composition has not yet been investigated. Thus, different extracts and the essential oil from the tubers were tested against a range of microorganisms. The most active extracts were submitted to chromatographic analysis. Methods: Hydroalcoholic extract (70%), fractions of it, and the essential oil from the tubers were tested against several bacteria, yeasts and molds, furnishing the corresponding inhibitory, bactericidal and fungicidal minimal concentration values. The most active extracts were submitted to GC-MS investigation. Results: The strongest effects against different strains of microorganisms, such as Gram-positive and negative bacteria, Candida
spp. and dermatophytes were observed for the essential oil and the chloroform fraction, with minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) well below 200 µg/mL. GC-MS analysis revealed that the major essential oil constituent is benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC), while the chloroform fraction is constituted of BITC, amides, sulfur, fatty acids and its esters, all compounds that may be related to the demonstrated activity. Conclusions: Overall, the results support the popular use of the plant for the treatment of skin infections, and revealed the main active compounds.
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