African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 6 (23), pp. 2650-2653, 3 December, 2007
Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB
ISSN 1684–5315 © 2007 Academic Journals
Full Length Research Paper
Antibacterial properties of Passiflora foetida L. – a
common exotic medicinal plant
C. Mohanasundari1, D. Natarajan2*, K. Srinivasan3, S. Umamaheswari4 and A. Ramachandran5
1Department of Microbiology, Kandaswami Kandar’s College, P. Velur, 638 182, Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, South India.
2Department of Botany, Periyar E.V.R. College (Autonomous), Tiruchirappalli 620 023, Tamil Nadu, South India.
3Department of Biology, Eritrea Institute of Technology, Mai Nefhi, Asmara, North East Africa.
4Department of Eco-Biotechnology, School of Environmental Sciences, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli 620
024, Tamil Nadu, South India.
5Forest Utilization Division, Tamil Nadu Forests Department, Chennai 600 006, Tamil Nadu, South India
Accepted 20 October, 2006
Passiflora foetida L. (stinking passion flower) is an exotic medicinal vine. The antibacterial properties of
leaf and fruit (ethanol and acetone) extracts were screened against four human pathogenic bacteria i.e.
Pseudomonas putida, Vibrio cholerae, Shigella flexneri and Streptococcus pyogenes by well-in agar
method. The results showed the leaf extract having remarkable activity against all bacterial pathogens
compared to fruits. This study supports, the traditional medicines (herbal extracts) to cure many
diseases like diarrhea, intestinal tract, throat, ear infections, fever and skin diseases.
Key words: Passiflora foetida, antibacterial activity, ethanol and acetone extracts, human pathogenic bacteria.
Human infections particularly those involving micro-
organisms i.e. bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes, they
cause serious infections in tropical and subtropical
countries of the world. In recent years, multiple drug
resistance in human pathogenic microorganisms has
been developed due to indiscriminate use of commercial
antimicrobial drugs commonly used in the treatment of
such diseases. Over the last three centuries, intensive
efforts have been made to discover clinically useful
antimicrobial drugs (Ahmed et al., 1998; Werner et al.,
1999; Perumalsamy and Ignacimuthu, 2000). The
increasing interest on traditional ethno medicine may lead
to discovery of novel therapeutic agents. Medicinal plants
are finding their way into pharmaceuticals, neutral-
ceuticals, cosmetics and food supplements. The World
Health Organization (WHO, 2000) estimated that 80% of
the population of developing countries still relies on tradi-
tional medicines, mostly plant drugs, for their primary
health care needs. Herbs are supposed to be safe but
*Corresponding author. E-mail: email@example.com.
many unsafe and fatal side effects have recently been
reported (Ikegami et al., 2003; Izzo, 2004). Hence, there
is an urgent need to study the screening of antimicrobial
properties of herbs, which will be helpful in the treatment
of several diseases caused by microorganisms.
In this study, we concentrate on the antibacterial
activity of Passion flower (Passiflora species), which is an
exotic and fast-growing perennial, vine, occurring in west
USA and extend to the Asian countries like India.
Traditionally, the fresh or dried whole plants as well as
their preparations are accepted for medicinal use in
America, Germany, France, and other European coun-
tries for the treatment of nervous anxiety (Felter and
Lloyd, 1898; Blumenthal, 1997; Speroni and Minghetti,
1988). The pharmacological studies of passionflower
have antispasmodic, sedative, anxiolytic (allaying anxie-
ty) and hypotensive activity (Weiss, 1988; Wolfman et al.,
1994; Akhondzadeh et al., 2001; Dhawan et al., 2001a,b;
Krenn, 2002; Dhawan et al., 2003; Abascal and Yarnell,
2004). Researchers have also found that one chemical
component of passionflower (passicol) has antimicrobial
activity (Nicolls, 1970; Birner and Nicolls, 1973; Nicolls et
al., 1973). One of the most important and common
species -Passiflora foetida was chosen in this study. The
ethnobotanical views of P. foetida, reports the decoction
of leaves and fruits to treat asthma and biliousness,
leaves and root decoction is emmenagogue, used in
hysteria (Ambasta et al., 1983) and leaf paste is applied
on the head for giddiness and headache (Chopra et al.,
1956). In Brazil, the herb is used in the form of lotions
or poultices for erysipelas and skin diseases with
inflammation (Chopra et al., 1944). The major phyto-
constituents of this plant contain alkaloids, phenols,
glycoside flavonoids and cyanogenic compounds
(Dhawan et al., 2004) and passifloricins, polyketides and
alpha-pyrones in P. foeida (Echeverri et al., 2001). The
present research is focused on the antibacterial activities
of P. foetida L. (Passifloraceae) a fast growing and
spreading vine (Mossukkattan, Poonaipudukku (in tamil)
and stinking passion flower (in English), found in
riverbeds, dry forest floors, way side thickets, covering
the top of thorny shrubs and also growing near hamlets.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Collection of plant materials
The aerial parts (leaves and fruits) of Passiflora foetida L. (passion
fruit) were collected from the roadside thickets and riverbed of
Rasipuram, Taluk, Namakkal district, Tamil Nadu. The botanical
nomenclature of the plants was duly identified by using standard
floras and also cross-checked with Herbarium records (Rapinat
Herbarium, Tiruchirappalli (RHT), India. All the plants were shade
dried for 10 days.
Preparation of extracts and microbes tested
The dried plant material was crushed into fine particles (powder)
using a mixer. About twenty-five grams of each plant (powdered
material) was separately extracted with 100 ml of ethanol and
acetone solvents. All the solvents were kept at room temperature,
for 7 days to allow the extraction of compounds from plants. Each
mixture was stirred every 24 h using sterile glass rod. The greenish
extracts were obtained and passed through the Whatman filter
paper No.1 and the respective solvents were evaporated (at 40oC)
with the help of heating mantle. The sticky black substances were
obtained and stored in refrigerator and were suspended in DMSO
(dimethyl sulfoxide) prior to use. About four pathogenic bacterial
strains were used in this study i.e. Pseudomonas putida, Vibrio
cholerae, Shigella flexneri and Streptococcus pyogenes. The
cultures were obtained from Microbial Type Culture Collection
(MTCC), IMTECH, Chandigarh, India. A microbial loop was used to
remove a colony of each bacterium from the pure culture and
transferred into liquid broth (Nutrient broth) and incubated for 24 h
at 37±1oC and maintained in sterile condition.
Screening for antibacterial properties
Antibacterial activities of plant extracts were tested by well-in-agar
method with some modifications. The culture plates were prepared
by pouring 20 ml of Mueller Hinton Agar medium into sterile
petriplates. The inoculum suspension was spread uniformly over
the agar medium using sterile cotton swabs to get uniform
distribution of bacteria. Using a flamed cork borer, well of 5 mm
diameter was made in the media at a distance of 1-2 cm from the
Mohanasundari et al. 2651
periphery of the plates. These plates were labeled and 0.2 ml of
each plant extract (at different concentration of extracts i.e. 100,
200, 300 and 400 mcg) was added aseptically into the well. Then
the plates were incubated for 24 h at 37ºC. The effectivity of these
extracts was recorded by measuring the diameter of inhibition zone.
Triplicate was performed and the experiment was repeated thrice
and the average values were recorded.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The results of antibacterial screening of ethanol and
acetone leaf and fruit extracts of P. foetida are presented
in Table 1. The ethanol leaf extracts exhibited variable
degrees of antibacterial activity against Ps. putida, V.
cholerae and the moderate activity was noted in S.
flexneri and St. pyogenes respectively. The result indi-
cates that all the organisms were found to be more
susceptible to the higher concentration of the extract. The
acetone extracts exhibited strong to moderate activity
against V. cholerae followed by Ps. putida, S. flexneri and
St. pyogenes. The ethanol fruit extracts showed mode-
rate activity against the bacterial pathogens namely V.
cholerae, Ps. putida, St. pyogenes and S. flexneri.
Similarly, the acetone extracts, too exhibited moderate to
mild activity against V. cholerae and Ps. putida according
to the varying concentration of the extracts. St. pyogenes
and S. flexneri exhibited very poor activity even at higher
concentration of extracts.
The present investigation reveals the antibacterial
properties of ethanol and acetone extracts of P. foetida,
which exhibited better antibacterial activity against Ps.
putida, V. cholerae and S. flexneri. The acetone extract
showed an excellent antibacterial activity against V.
cholerae followed by Ps. putida, S. flexneri and St.
pyogenes. But in case of ethanol extract showed higher
spectrum of antibacterial activity in Ps. putida, V.
cholerae, S. flexneri and St. pyogenes. Among the two
parts tested, the leaf extracts exhibited better anti-
bacterial activity than the fruits.
The results of present study conclude that the plants
and their extractions (solvent) have broad spectrum and
magnitude of activity in higher concentrations of the
extract. Similar conclusions were drawn by Afolayan and
Meyer (1997), who proved that antimicrobial activity of
acetone extract from the aerial parts of Helichrysum
aureonitens, had significant activity against gram-positive
bacteria and considerable result in fungal species
depending on the concentration of extracts. Likewise,
Balakrishna et al. (2000) worked on the antibacterial and
antifungal activities of alcoholic extract of the aerial parts
of Solanum trilobatum and concluded that the higher
concentration of the extracts exhibited better activity. The
ethanol extract from Terminalia macroptera (Silva et al.,
1997) and Siberian medicinal plants (Kokoska et al.,
2002) were screened for activity against seven bacterial
strains including Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli,
Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
2652 Afr. J. Biotechnol.
Table 1. Antibacterial activity of organic solvent (ethanol and acetone) extracts of leaf and fruits of Passiflora foetida L. by well-in
Diameter of inhibition zone (mm)
100 14 16 17 20
200 12 15 19 20
300 11 12 13 15
400 7 8 10 10
100 11 12 12 13
200 13 15 16 17
300 11 13 14 15
400 10 11 12 13
100 9 11 11 12
200 10 12 13 14
300 9 10 11 12
400 9 10 10 12
100 10 11 11 13
200 10 10 12 14
300 - - - -
400 9 10 11 13
Standard Antibiotic Streptomycin mcg/ml 25 13 18 20 23
control - - - - - -
Sterile disc soaked in solvents
The earlier reports focused on the antibacterial properties
of Passiflora species by different methods. The crude
materials of Passiflora were separated into several
fractions; passicol was obtained, which had antimicrobial
activity (Birner and Nicolls, 1973). On the other hand,
Perry et al. (1991) reported the antibacterial activity of
Pseudomonas tetrandra, which has got activity against E.
coli, B. subtilis and P. aeruginosa, the potential plant
The results of present research highlights, the fact that
the organic solvent extracts exhibited greater antimicro-
bial activity because the antimicrobial principles were
either polar or non-polar and they were extracted only
through the organic solvent medium (Britto, 2001). The
present observation suggests that the organic solvent
extraction was suitable to verify the antimicrobial pro-
perties of medicinal plants and they supported by many
investigators (Krishna et al., 1997; Singh and Singh 2000;
Natarajan et al., 2003, 2005). The present study justifies
the claimed uses of Passiflora foetida L. in the traditional
system of medicine to treat various infectious diseases
caused by the microbes. This study also encourages
cultivation of the highly valuable plant in large-scale to
increase the economic status of cultivars in the country.
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