Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Hilo, Hawaii » Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center » Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research » Research » Research Project #438579

Research Project: Investigating Natural Compounds from Tropical Plants with Medicinal Activity

Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research

Project Number: 2040-21000-019-004-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 31, 2020
End Date: Aug 30, 2025

Investigate tropical plants produced in Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific Basin for potential plant-based chemicals with medicinal or pharmaceutical relevance. Extract, isolate, and identify natural compounds, phytochemicals, and nutrients which exhibit biological activity (antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, nutritional and/or medicinal).

A research team comprised of scientists from the University of Hawaii at Hilo and the U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center with expertise in tropical and medicinal plants and natural product chemistry will identify potential plants for phytochemical analyses. Diverse extraction methods will be developed and monitored for bioactive compounds from edible plant sources to traditional medicinal plants. Compounds will be fractionated and isolated from extracts via several chromatographic methods to achieve a rapid and high-recovery yield and re-isolation of structurally similar compounds. Isolated compounds will be tested in antibacterial and anti-inflammatory bioassays. Specific approach includes 1) testing antimycobacterial activity of uhaloa (Waltheria indica) and noni (Morinda citrifolia) extracts against Mycobacterium chimaera, a cause of nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) pulmonary disease; and 2) isolating and identifying the antimicrobial agents from the natural product extracts that demonstrate activity against M. chimaera. The chemical structure of novel bioactive compounds will be elucidated with mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, UV-Visible spectroscopy, infrared (IR) spectroscopy, and other standard analytical tools.