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Fusarium inhibition by wild populations of the medicinal plant Salvia africana-lutea L. linked to metabolomic profiling

Mpumelelo M Nkomo1, David DR Katerere25, Hester HF Vismer26, Thomas T Cruz3, Stephane S Balayssac3, Myriam M Malet-Martino3 and Nokwanda NP Makunga14*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland, Stellenbosch 7602, South Africa

2 PROMEC Unit, Medical Research Council (MRC), Tygerberg 7505, South Africa

3 Groupe de RMN Biomédicale, Laboratoire SPCMIB (UMR CNRS 5068), Université Paul Sabatier, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex, France

4 Research Associate, Institute for Plant Biotechnology, Department of Genetics, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland, Stellenbosch 7602, South Africa

5 Present Address: Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tshwane University of Technology, Private Bag X680, Pretoria 0001, South Africa

6 Present Address: Institute of Biomedical and Microbial Biotechnology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, PO Box 1906, Bellville 7535, South Africa

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:99  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-99

Published: 13 March 2014



Salvia africana-lutea L., an important medicinal sage used in the Western Cape (South Africa), can be termed a ‘broad-spectrum remedy’ suggesting the presence of a multiplicity of bioactive metabolites. This study aimed at assessing wild S. africana-lutea populations for chemotypic variation and anti-Fusarium properties.


Samples were collected from four wild growing population sites (Yzerfontein, Silwerstroomstrand, Koeberg and Brackenfell) and one garden growing location in Stellenbosch. Their antifungal activities against Fusarium verticillioides (strains: MRC 826 and MRC 8267) and F. proliferatum (strains: MRC 6908 and MRC 7140) that are aggressive mycotoxigenic phytopathogens were compared using an in vitro microdilution assay. To correlate antifungal activity to chemical profiles, three techniques viz. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS); Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and 1H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) were employed. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was applied to the NMR data. The partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) was used to integrate LC-MS and NMR data sets. All statistics were performed with the SIMCA-P + 12.0 software.


The dichloromethane:methanol (1:1; v/v) extracts of the plant species collected from Stellenbosch demonstrated the strongest inhibition of F. verticillioides and F. proliferatum with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of 0.031 mg ml-1 and 0.063 mg ml-1 respectively. GC-MS showed four compounds which were unique to the Stellenbosch extracts. By integrating LC-MS and 1H NMR analyses, large chemotype differences leading to samples grouping by site when a multivariate analysis was performed, suggested strong plant-environment interactions as factors influencing metabolite composition. Signals distinguishing the Stellenbosch profile were in the aromatic part of the 1H NMR spectra.


This study shows the potential of chemotypes of Salvia africana-lutea in controlling fungal growth and consequently mycotoxin production. Products for use in the agricultural sector may be developed from such chemotypes.

Salvia africana-lutea; Chemotypes; Fusarium species; Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS); Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS); 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)