In vitroshoot culture and antimicrobial activity ofBerberis buxifoliaLam

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Berberis buxifolia Lam., known as “Calafate”, is a plant native to Argentina that exhibits antimicrobial activity. This biological activity is attributed to the isoquinoline alkaloid berberine. The aim of this research was to test the antimicrobial properties of different extracts of this species, taking berberine as the reference molecule, and to examine if the expression of bacterial multidrug resistance (MDR) efflux pumps could be responsible for possible resistance mechanisms. To this end, a wild-type and a mutant strain of Staphylococcus aureus with a defective MDR efflux pump were used and the minimum inhibitory concentrations of the extracts were determined. The studies were carried out with infusions of in vivo shoots and “Calafate” commercial tea, as well as with the media derived from shoot cultures incubated with different plant growth regulators (thidiazuron, picloram, and jasmonic acid). As far as antimicrobial activity is concerned, all the extracts tested were significantly more effective than berberine standard. “Calafate” commercial tea and shoot tea had inhibitory concentrations similar to the one observed for ampicillin standard. The media from the shoot cultures, however, were significantly more effective than all the others, particularly the one derived from jasmonic acid, suggesting the presence of compounds that could be acting synergistically with berberine. There were no differences in antimicrobial activity against the wild-type and the mutant S. aureus; no definite conclusions could be drawn concerning the relationship between MDR pumps and possible pathogen resistance to extracts of B. buxifolia.

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