Productions of various bacterial traits like production of virulence factors (e.g. toxins, enzymes), biofilm formation, luminescence among others, have been known to be controlled by quorum sensing (QS), a process that is dependent on chemical signals or autoinducers (AIs). Bacteria known to rely on such AIs are known to be virulent and tend to be resistant against various antimicrobial agents. Therefore, strategies aimed at the inhibition of QS pathways, are regarded as potential novel therapies in managing bacterial virulence hence reducing their ability to induce infections in humans. In the present study, a portfolio of 25 medicinal plant extracts (ethanol 50% v/v) used in southwestern Kenya were assayed against a transformed E. coli Top 10 reporter QS strain. This biosensor responds to the exogenous addition of 3-oxo-N-hexanoyl homoserine lactone (3OC6HSL) expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP). The large majority of the screened medicinal plants seemed to exhibit toxic effects and almost none of them induced antiquorum sensing (AQS) activity. This could be the consequence of the presence of mixed compounds in the extracts. Elaeodendron buchananii Loes and Acacia gerrardii Benth extracts that seemed to show AQS activity were further proved found to possess mild AQS but with defined antimicrobial activities, and no antibiofilm formation inhibition. As a control, an E. coli pBCA9145_jtk2828:: sfGFP strain that produces constitutively GFP was used and confirmed that none of the two extracts quenched the fluorescence of sfGFP. Cytotoxicity assays with mammalian MDCK cells also did indicate that the selected extracts with putative AQS activity, also reduced the cell viability. Therefore, further studies will be needed to separate and re-test the individual compounds especially from the selected two promising plants.
Omwenga, E. O., Hensel, A., Pereira, S., Shitandi, A. A., & Goycoolea, F. M. (2017). Antiquorum sensing, antibiofilm formation and cytotoxicity activity of commonly used medicinal plants by inhabitants of Borabu sub-county, Nyamira County, Kenya. PLoS ONE, 12(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185722