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Special Issue "Medicinal, Aromatic, and Edible Plants: The Link between Pharmacy, Food, and Nutrition"

A special issue of Molecules (ISSN 1420-3049). This special issue belongs to the section "Natural Products Chemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Antonios Chrysargyris
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Sciences, Biotechnology and Food Science, Cyprus University of Technology, 3036 Limassol, Cyprus
Interests: aromatic plants and vegetable cultivation; development of strategies for plant nutrition and response to abiotic stress; soilless culture, substrates and hydroponics; postharvest storage and processing of medicinal and aromatic plants; essential oil analysis and biocidal activity; evaluation of natural products
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Andrei Mocan
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Department of Pharmaceutical Botany, Iuliu Hațieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, 23 Ghe. Marinescu Street, Cluj-Napoca 400337, Romania
Interests: pharmaceutical biology (botany); valorization of traditional medicinal and edible plants and fungi; extraction optimization of bioactive compounds from plant materials; experimental design applied to extraction and process optimization; bioactivity and chemical characterization of natural products, development of new nutraceuticals based on medicinal plants and fungi, natural products as enzyme inhibitors
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Nikos Tzortzakis
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Sciences, Biotechnology and Food Science, Cyprus University of Technology, 3036 Limassol, Cyprus
Interests: vegetable production; plant nutrition; soilless culture; substrates and hydroponics; abiotic stress; postharvest and quality of fresh produce; edible flowers; bioactive compounds; medicinal and aromatic plants
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

The rapid explosion of the human population and several changes in their life style reflect the epidemic increase of chronic diseases and associated pathological complications. As such, health has become the forefront of scientific research for finding novel foods and strategies to tackle such a public health burden. Food is not only intended to satisfy hunger and provide essential macro- and micronutrients for the body, but it can also supply bioactive ingredients that aid to decrease nutrition-related diseases and ensure physical and mental wellbeing.

Plants are an integral part of all living organisms of the earth, and medicinal plants are widely distributed worldwide. Since immemorial time, humans from all the cultures worldwide have independently selected plants as a food. Moreover, as a consequence of the intensification of the agricultural practices, several wild edible plants have been gradually excluded from daily diets, depriving the human body from a more diverse panel of plant phytochemicals. Furthermore, the widespread traditional uses of natural herbs and medicinal plants in curing and preventing diseases (nature’s pharmacy) are very well described in ancient texts. Different medicinal, aromatic, and edible plants are known to present antibiotic, antidiabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hyperlipidemic properties, among others and several herbal derived products or dietary supplements are market-available today, being advertised for their health claims.

Contributions to this Special Issue may cover all research aspects related to medicinal, aromatic, and edible plants linking the gap between the triangle of pharmacy, food, and nutrition; characterization of biocidal activity and plant biocidal capacity, including (but not limited to) methods for their extraction, purification, comprehensive profiling characterization, and quantification; the elucidation of their mechanisms of action with focus on antiproperties (antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, antidiabetic, etc.); and improved methods for assessing bioactive components and their bioaccessibility. The recent advances in analytical approaches, -omic sciences, and biotechnology which are offering new and interesting insights into their characterization are also covered.

Keywords

  • Natural products
  • Phytochemicals
  • Functional foods
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Antioxidant activity
  • Unexplored edible plants
  • Added-value products
  • Plant byproducts

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Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
Fermentation Enhanced Biotransformation of Compounds in the Kernel of Chrysophyllum albidum
Molecules 2020, 25(24), 6021; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25246021 - 19 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 727
Abstract
Chrysophyllum albidum Linn (African star apple) is a fruit with extensive nutritional and medicinal benefits. The fruit and kernel in the seed are both edible. Strains of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) were isolated from fermented seeds and assessed for probiotic characteristics. The extracts [...] Read more.
Chrysophyllum albidum Linn (African star apple) is a fruit with extensive nutritional and medicinal benefits. The fruit and kernel in the seed are both edible. Strains of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) were isolated from fermented seeds and assessed for probiotic characteristics. The extracts in both the unfermented and the fermented aqueous extracts from the kernels obtained from the seeds of C. albidum were subjected to analysis using the gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS) method. This analysis identified the bioactive compounds present as possible substrate(s) for the associated organisms inducing the fermentation and the resultant biotransformed products formed. Three potential probiotic LAB strains identified as Lactococcus raffinolactis (ProbtA1), Lactococcus lactis (ProbtA2a), and Pediococcus pentosaceus (ProbtA2b) were isolated from the fermented C. albidum seeds. All strains were non hemolytic, which indicated their safety, Probt (A1, A2a, and A2b) grew in an acidic environment (pH 3.5) during the 48-h incubation time, and all three strains grew in 1% bile, and exhibited good hydrophobicity and auto-aggregation properties. Mucin binding proteins was not detected in any strain, and bile salt hydrolase was detected in all the strains. l-lactic acid (28.57%), norharman (5.07%), formyl 7E-hexadecenoate (1.73%), and indole (1.51%) were the four major constituents of the fermented kernel of the C. albidum, while 2,5-dimethylpyrazine (C1, 1.27%), 3,5-dihydroxy-6-methyl-2,3-dihydropyran-4-one (C2, 2.90%), indole (C3, 1.31%), norharman (C4, 3.01%), and methyl petroselinate (C5, 4.33%) were the five major constituents of the unfermented kernels. The isolated LAB are safe for consumption. The fermenting process metabolized C1, C2, and C5, which are possible starter cultures for the growth of probiotics. Fermentation is an essential tool for bioengineering molecules in foods into safe and health beneficial products. Full article
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Article
Content of Phenolic Compounds and Organic Acids in the Flowers of Selected Tulipa gesneriana Cultivars
Molecules 2020, 25(23), 5627; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25235627 - 29 Nov 2020
Viewed by 620
Abstract
The study focused on the determination of phenolic acids, flavonoids and organic acids in five tulip cultivars ‘Barcelona’, ‘Columbus’, ‘Strong Gold’, ‘Super Parrot’ and ‘Tropicana’. The cultivars grown in field and in a greenhouse were exposed after cutting to different times of storage [...] Read more.
The study focused on the determination of phenolic acids, flavonoids and organic acids in five tulip cultivars ‘Barcelona’, ‘Columbus’, ‘Strong Gold’, ‘Super Parrot’ and ‘Tropicana’. The cultivars grown in field and in a greenhouse were exposed after cutting to different times of storage (0, 3 and 6 days). The phenolic profile contained 4-hydroxybenzoic, 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic, gallic, vanillic, syringic, salicylic, protocatechuic, trans-cinnamic, p-coumaric, caffeic, ferulic, chlorogenic and sinapic acids, as well as quercetin, rutin, luteonin, catechin and vitexin. The mean phenolic acid content was in the following order: ‘Columbus’ and ‘Tropicana’ > ’Barcelona’ > ’Strong Gold’ > ’Super Parrot’, while the levels of flavonoids were as follows: ‘Strong Gold’ > ’Barcelona’ > ’Tropicana’ > ’Columbus’ > ’Super Parrot’. The highest content of phenolic acids was confirmed for Columbus and Tropicana, while the lowest was for Super Parrot. However total phenolic content was very similar, observed between the place of cultivation, time of storage and cultivars. Malonic, succinic, acetic and citric acids were the major organic acid components in tulip petals. More organic acids (except malonic) were accumulated in tulip petals from fields than those from the greenhouse, while changes during storage were strictly correlated with cultivars. Full article
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Article
Fostering Lavender as a Source for Valuable Bioactives for Food and Pharmaceutical Applications through Extraction and Microencapsulation
Molecules 2020, 25(21), 5001; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25215001 - 28 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 640
Abstract
Lavender flowers were used in this study as a source of phytochemicals as naturally occurring antioxidants. Two different extraction techniques were applied, such as ultrasound-assisted (UAE) and supercritical fluids (SCE) methods. The comparative evaluation of the phytochemicals profile evidenced a higher content of [...] Read more.
Lavender flowers were used in this study as a source of phytochemicals as naturally occurring antioxidants. Two different extraction techniques were applied, such as ultrasound-assisted (UAE) and supercritical fluids (SCE) methods. The comparative evaluation of the phytochemicals profile evidenced a higher content of chlorophyll a and b of 5.22 ± 0.12 mg/g dry weight (D.W.) and 2.95 ± 0.16 mg/g D.W, whereas the carotenoids content was 18.24 ± 0.04 mg/g D.W. in the SCE extract. Seven main compounds were found in both extracts: β-linalool, eucalyptol, linalool acetate, β-trans-ocimene, and limonene in SCE and linalool acetate, β-linalool, 6-methyl-2-(2-oxiranyl)-5-hepten-2-ol, linalool oxide, lavandulyl acetate and camphor in UAE. The (n-3) acids had a higher contribution in SCE. The extracts were microencapsulated in different combinations of wall materials based on polysaccharides and milk proteins. The four variants showed different phytochemical and morphological profiles, with a better encapsulating efficiency for proteins (up to 98%), but with a higher content of encapsulated carotenoids for polysaccharides, the latter showing remarkable antimicrobial activity against selected microorganisms. Carboxymethyl cellulose and whey proteins led to a double encapsulation of lipophilic compounds. The powders were tested in two food matrices as ingredients, with multiple targeted functions, such as flavoring, antimicrobial, antioxidant activity that can successfully replace synthetic additives. Full article
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Article
Chemical Composition, Antimicrobial Properties of Siparuna guianensis Essential Oil and a Molecular Docking and Dynamics Molecular Study of its Major Chemical Constituent
Molecules 2020, 25(17), 3852; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25173852 - 25 Aug 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1046
Abstract
The essential oil of Siparuna guianensis was obtained by hydrodistillation. The identification of the chemical compounds was performed by gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Antimicrobial activity was investigated for four microorganisms: Streptococcus mutans (ATCC 3440), Enterococcus faecalis (ATCC 4083), Escherichia coli [...] Read more.
The essential oil of Siparuna guianensis was obtained by hydrodistillation. The identification of the chemical compounds was performed by gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Antimicrobial activity was investigated for four microorganisms: Streptococcus mutans (ATCC 3440), Enterococcus faecalis (ATCC 4083), Escherichia coli (ATCC 25922), and Candida albicans (ATCC-10231). The studies of doping and molecular dynamics were performed with the molecule that presented the highest concentration of drug–target proteins, 1IYL (C. albicans), 1C14 (E. coli), 2WE5 (E. faecalis), and 4TQX (S. mutans). The main compounds identified were: Curzerene (7.1%), γ-Elemene (7.04%), Germacrene D (7.61%), trans-β-Elemenone (11.78%), and Atractylone (18.65%). Gram positive bacteria and fungi were the most susceptible to the effects of the essential oil. The results obtained in the simulation showed that the major compound atractylone interacts with the catalytic sites of the target proteins, forming energetically favourable systems and remaining stable during the period of molecular dynamics. Full article
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Article
Nutrient and Sensory Metabolites Profiling of Averrhoa Carambola L. (Starfruit) in the Context of Its Origin and Ripening Stage by GC/MS and Chemometric Analysis
Molecules 2020, 25(10), 2423; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25102423 - 22 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1203
Abstract
Averrhoa carambola L. is a tropical tree with edible fruit that grows at different climatic conditions. Despite its nutritive value and reported health benefits, it is a controversial fruit owing to its rich oxalate content. The present study aimed at investigating aroma and [...] Read more.
Averrhoa carambola L. is a tropical tree with edible fruit that grows at different climatic conditions. Despite its nutritive value and reported health benefits, it is a controversial fruit owing to its rich oxalate content. The present study aimed at investigating aroma and nutrient primary metabolites distribution in A. carambola fruits grown in Indonesia, Malaysia (its endemic origin) versus Egypt, and at different ripening stages. Two techniques were employed to assess volatile and non-volatile metabolites including headspace solid-phase micro-extraction (HS-SPME) joined with gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrometry (GC-MS) and GC-MS post silylation, respectively. Twenty-four volatiles were detected, with esters amounting for the major class of volatiles in Egyptian fruit at ca. 66%, with methyl caproate as the major component, distinguishing it from other origins. In contrast, aldehydes predominated tropically grown fruits with the ether myristicin found exclusively in these. Primary metabolites profiling led to the identification of 117 metabolites viz. sugars, polyols and organic acids. Fructose (38–48%) and glucose (21–25%) predominated sugar compositions in ripe fruits, whereas sorbitol was the major sugar alcohol (2.4–10.5%) in ripe fruits as well. Oxalic acid, an anti-nutrient with potential health risks, was the major organic acid detected in all the studied fruits (1.7–2.7%), except the Malaysian one (0.07%). It increases upon fruit ripening, including considerable amounts of volatile oxalate esters detected via SPME, and which must not be omitted in total oxalate determinations for safety assessments. Full article
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Article
Antiadipogenic Effects of Mixtures of Cornus officinalis and Ribes fasciculatum Extracts on 3T3-L1 Preadipocytes and High-Fat Diet-Induced Mice
Molecules 2020, 25(10), 2350; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25102350 - 18 May 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 905
Abstract
Medicinal plants have been used worldwide as primary alternative healthcare supplements. Cornus officinalis (CO) and Ribes fasciculatum (RF) are traditional medicinal plants applied in East Asia to treat human diseases such as hepatitis, osteoporosis, oxidative stress and allergy. The aim of this study [...] Read more.
Medicinal plants have been used worldwide as primary alternative healthcare supplements. Cornus officinalis (CO) and Ribes fasciculatum (RF) are traditional medicinal plants applied in East Asia to treat human diseases such as hepatitis, osteoporosis, oxidative stress and allergy. The aim of this study was to examine the anti-obesity effect of CO and RF on preadipocyte 3T3-L1 cells in vitro and high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity mice in vivo. Combination treatment of CO and RF in differentiated 3T3-L1 cells inhibited adipocyte differentiation through downregulation of adipogenesis-associated genes such as CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha (Cebpa), fatty acid binding protein 4 (Fabp4), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (Pparg) and sterol regulatory element binding protein (Srebp1). In vivo animal models showed that a mixture of CO and RF inhibited HFD-induced weight gain, resulting in decreased abdominal visceral fat tissues and fatty hepatocyte deposition. In addition, CO+RF treatment decreased HFD-induced adipogenesis-associated genes in abdominal white fat tissue. These results suggest that administration of a CO and RF mixture prevented adipocyte differentiation and lipid accumulation in preadipocyte cells and HFD-induced body weight in obesity mice. Therefore, combined therapy of CO and RF may be a protective therapeutic agent against obesity. Full article
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Article
Infusions of Herbal Blends as Promising Sources of Phenolic Compounds and Bioactive Properties
Molecules 2020, 25(9), 2151; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25092151 - 04 May 2020
Viewed by 1110
Abstract
Several plants have been used for medicinal applications and have been traditionally consumed as decoctions and infusions. Although some herbs are used alone as a beverage, they are often blended in mixtures to maximize their effects. Herein, the nutritional characterization of six infusions [...] Read more.
Several plants have been used for medicinal applications and have been traditionally consumed as decoctions and infusions. Although some herbs are used alone as a beverage, they are often blended in mixtures to maximize their effects. Herein, the nutritional characterization of six infusions from herbal blends was evaluated using the official methods of analysis (AOAC international). A further characterization of the individual phenolic profile was also performed by HPLC-DAD/ESI-MSn, and finally bioactive potential was determined by evaluating the antioxidant, cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial activities of each blend. The wide variety of plants in each sample led to variability in the results for all analyzed parameters. However, blends containing 15% Laurus nobilis L. and 15% Juglan regia L. in their composition showed higher sugar content and energy contribution; higher concentration of phenolic compounds (phenolic acids and flavonoids); greater antioxidant, cytotoxic, and anti-inflammatory capacity; and also better antimicrobial effects against all the tested bacterial and fungal strains. Further studies will be necessary to evaluate the real synergistic effects that these two species show in the presence of other plants, and to evaluate their potential for application in various food, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical products as infusion preparations. Full article
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Article
Phytochemical Profile and Biological Activity of Endemic Sideritis sipylea Boiss. in North Aegean Greek Islands
Molecules 2020, 25(9), 2022; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25092022 - 26 Apr 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1626
Abstract
Sideritis sipylea Boiss. is an endemic plant of the Mediterranean basin that is distributed in the Greek islands of the North Aegean Sea, i.e., Lesvos, Chios, Samos, and Ikaria, and in the West and Middle peninsula of Turkey. It is considered an endangered [...] Read more.
Sideritis sipylea Boiss. is an endemic plant of the Mediterranean basin that is distributed in the Greek islands of the North Aegean Sea, i.e., Lesvos, Chios, Samos, and Ikaria, and in the West and Middle peninsula of Turkey. It is considered an endangered species because of its uncontrolled collection from its original habitat. Although the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties have been previously reported, the total chemical profile has not yet been explored. In this context, the chemical profiles of the water/methanol (HA), methanol (ME), and ethyl acetate (EtOAc) extracts were analyzed using ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry (UPLC-HRMS). In parallel, analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was employed for the dichloromethane extract (DCM) as well as for the essential oil (EO) and the extract obtained by supercritical fluid extraction (SFE). Furthermore, the total phenolic content (TPC) along with the in vitro tyrosinase and elastase enzyme inhibitory activity of different extracts was evaluated, towards the discovery of new active agents for cosmetic formulations. These activities are in accordance with its well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, confirming the importance of ethnopharmacological references for S. sipylea in Greece and Turkey. Full article
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Article
Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni, a Source of High-Potency Natural Sweetener—Biochemical and Genetic Characterization
Molecules 2020, 25(4), 767; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25040767 - 11 Feb 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1350
Abstract
Stevia rebaudiana is a natural sweetener herb that is increasingly used in herbal medicines in the food and cosmetics industries. Molecular methods can be combined with morphological techniques to identify stevia genotypes as a starting material to produce more reliable bioproducts. This study [...] Read more.
Stevia rebaudiana is a natural sweetener herb that is increasingly used in herbal medicines in the food and cosmetics industries. Molecular methods can be combined with morphological techniques to identify stevia genotypes as a starting material to produce more reliable bioproducts. This study evaluated the level of the genetic and biochemical diversity in various stevia genotypes using HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) analysis and random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers. Stevia genotypes collected from different locations of the world showed clear variations at the biochemical and genetic level in Polish climate conditions. The influence of the genotypes on the content of steviol glycosides, antioxidants, phenols, flavonoids, and tannins was analyzed using phytochemical assays. Genotypes from Morocco, Poland, Egypt, and Nigeria can be defined as samples of higher quality compared to other genotypes analyzed in terms of the amount of steviol glycosides. Considering the rebaudioside A/stevioside ratio as a selection criterion, genotypes from Australia, China, India, and Pakistan should be considered to be valuable in terms of suitability for obtaining new varieties. The present results of RAPD marker analysis indicated differential banding pattern and considerable polymorphism among all ten stevia genotypes. Genotypes from Morocco, Egypt, Poland, Nigeria, China, and India, as genetically different, can be selected for further stevia breeding programs. Full article
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Review

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Review
A Review: The Triterpenoid Saponins and Biological Activities of Lonicera Linn.
Molecules 2020, 25(17), 3773; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25173773 - 19 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 855
Abstract
Lonicera Linn. is an important genus of the family Caprifoliaceae comprising of approximately 200 species, and some species of which have been usually used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Some species of this genus can also be used in functional [...] Read more.
Lonicera Linn. is an important genus of the family Caprifoliaceae comprising of approximately 200 species, and some species of which have been usually used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Some species of this genus can also be used in functional foods, cosmetics and other applications. The saponins, as one of most important bioactive components of the Lonicera Linn. genus, have attracted the attention of the scientific community. Thus, a comprehensive and systematic review on saponins from the genus is indispensable. In this review, 87 saponins and sapogenin from the genus of Lonicera Linn., together with their pharmacological activities including hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-allergic, anti-tumor, and immunomodulatory effects, and hemolytic toxicity were summarized. Full article
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