Open Access Research article

Antifungal and antibacterial activity and chemical composition of polar and non-polar extracts of Athrixia phylicoides determined using bioautography and HPLC

Lyndy Joy McGaw1*, Victor Patrick Bagla12, Paul Anton Steenkamp34, Gerda Fouche3, Jana Olivier5, Jacobus Nicolaas Eloff1 and Martin Steven Myer5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Phytomedicine Programme, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort 0110, South Africa

2 Present address: Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Limpopo, Private Bag X1106, Sovenga 0727, South Africa

3 Biosciences, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, PO Box 395, Pretoria, Gauteng 0001, South Africa

4 Department of Biochemistry, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park 2006, South Africa

5 Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X20, Hatfield 0028, South Africa

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:356  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-356

Published: 13 December 2013



Athrixia phylicoides DC. (Asteraceae) is used medicinally in South Africa to treat a plethora of ailments, including heart problems, diabetes, diarrhoea, sores and infected wounds. It is also prepared in the form of a tea (hot decoction) taken as a refreshing, pleasant-tasting beverage with commercialization potential.


Extracts of the dried ground aerial parts were prepared using organic solvents (diethyl ether, dichloromethane/methanol, ethyl acetate and ethanol) and water. These extracts were subjected to HPLC, TLC and bioautography analysis with the aim of linking a range of peaks visualized in HPLC chromatography profiles to antibacterial and antifungal activity of the same extracts.


HPLC revealed a group of compounds extracted by more than one solvent. Compounds identified include inositol, caffeic acid, quercetin, kaempferol, apigenin, hymenoxin and oleanolic acid. The organic extracts displayed similar TLC profiles, and bioautography indicated approximately five antibacterial compounds, but only two antifungal compounds in these extracts. Bioautography indicated that cold water extracted the least antimicrobial compounds.


Several previously unknown compounds were identified in Athrixia phylicoides extracts, and bioautography indicated a number of antibacterial and antifungal compounds. There were notable differences in chemical composition and bioactivity between the organic and aqueous extracts. Further research is necessary to fully characterize the active components of the extracts.

Antibacterial; Antifungal; Asteraceae; Athrixia phylicoides; Bioautography; HPLC; Zulu tea