5. Evaluating the Chemistry and Biological Action of Midwestern Medicinal Plants

Claire Cornwell Earlham College, Rafaella Shima Earlham College, Jasmine Carter Earlham College, Alexandra Abelkis Earlham College, Nguyen-Anh Nguyen Earlham College
Faculty Sponsor(s): Mike Diebel Earlham College
Literature has demonstrated Caenorhabditis elegans possess similar cellular mechanisms when responding to toxic stress and increasing lifespan. In addition, a plant-based diet with antioxidant activity and high phenolic content are associated with increased health. We tested the hypothesis that medicinal plant extracts would improve C. elegans survival rates when exposed to toxic (hot and cold temperature) stresses. The chemical content and biological activity of mulberry, goldenrod root, goldenrod leaf, blue violet, black raspberry, and red root plant extracts were measured and their compound class fractions (anthocyanin, flavonol, tannin, and phenolic acid). We found that with increased phenolic content, extracts had higher antioxidant activity; this correlation is largely attributed to anthocyanin content. Additionally, phytochemicals not isolated in our fractions and/or synergistic interactions contributed to the overall antioxidant capacity of extracts. We did not find a correlation between antioxidant capacities and C. elegans survival rate under toxic stresses. However, mulberry (50 mL) significantly increased the survival rate in response to cold stress and blue violet ( 400 mL) extract treatment trended towards increased survival rate in heat stress. This research is a preliminary step for further study and discussion to understand the comparison between medicinal plant activity and C. elegans survival and longevity.
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Poster Presentation

When & Where

Irwin Library Lower Level