Antifungal potential ofAvicennia schauerianaStapf & Leech. (Acanthaceae) againstCladosporiumandColletotrichumspecies

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There is significant interest in research to develop plant extracts with fungicidal activities that are less harmful to the environment and human health than synthetic fungicides. This study aimed to evaluate the antifungal activity of the extracts of Avicennia schaueriana against Colletotrichum and Cladosporium species and to identify the compounds responsible for the activity. Leaves and stems of A. schaueriana were extracted with ethanol and partitioned with petroleum ether, chloroform and ethyl acetate. The antifungal activity of such extracts was tested by bioautography against Cladosporium sphaerospermum, Cladosporium cladosporioides and Colletotrichum lagenarium. Ethanolic extracts, petroleum ether and chloroform fractions of stems had the highest antifungal activity with several active bands (Rf = 0·72 and Rf = 0·55). In the agar dilution assay, ethanolic extract, petroleum ether and chloroform fractions of stems were the most efficacious, presenting 85, 62 and 63% growth inhibition of Colletotrichum gloeopsporioides and minimum inhibitory concentration values between 1 and 1·5 mg ml−1, respectively. Analysis carried out using gas chromatography coupled to a mass spectrometry of petroleum ether and chloroform fractions allowed the identification of fatty acids methyl esters, lupeol and naphthoquinones such as lapachol, α-lapachone, naphtho[2,3-b]furan-4,9-dione, 2-isopropyl- and avicenol-C. We may infer that the antifungal activity of A. schaueriana is due to the abundance of these compounds.Significance and Impact of the Study: This study shows that Avicennia schaueriana extracts have a high potential for the growth inhibition of Colletotrichum and Cladosporium ssp. and will provide a starting point for discovering new natural products with antifungal activity. Their development is of particular interest to organic production systems where synthetic fungicides cannot be used.

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