Antibacterial properties and toxicity of Atuna racemosa extract depend on kernel maturity

Eric J. Buenz, John E. Tillner, Paul Limburg, Brent A. Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Through data mining a historic herbal text, we identified Atuna racemosa-Raf. as a plant with alleged antibacterial properties. We have shown that these purported antibacterial properties are most prominent in the kernel of the nut of the plant. While working with traditional healers in Samoa during a botanical collection trip, we identified a range of maturity stages of the kernel. Here we show that the antibacterial properties are different at different stages of kernel maturity, and that the immature kernels have a lower minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) than the mature kernels. Additionally, we show there is a negative correlation between the antibacterial properties and cytotoxic properties (a stronger antibiotic is less cytotoxic), suggesting there are two separate compounds with disparate characteristics. These findings have implications for the use of this natural product as an antibiotic and chemotherapeutic agent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-597
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 22 2007


  • Antibacterial
  • Ethnobotany
  • Historic text
  • Natural product
  • Plant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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