Antibacterial and antimycobacterial activities of South African Salvia species and isolated compounds from S. chamelaeagnea

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South African Journal of Botany

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University of Cape Town

Extracts of 16 South African Salvia species commonly used in traditional medicine to treat various microbial infections were investigated for in vitro antibacterial and antimycobacterial activities using the micro-dilution and respiratory BACTEC method, respectively. The micro-organisms tested include two Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus); two Gram-negative (Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae) bacterial strains and the common pathogen responsible for tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Extracts of the majority of species exhibited moderate to good antibacterial activity with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values ranging from 0.03 to 8.00 mg/ml. Promising activity was observed against M. tuberculosis (MIC ≤ 0.50 mg/ml) with S. radula, S. verbenaca and S. dolomitica displaying the most favourable activity (MIC: 0.10 mg/ml). The antibacterial bioassay-guided fractionation of S. chamelaeagnea resulted in the isolation of four compounds: carnosol, 7-O-methylepirosmanol, oleanolic acid and its isomer ursolic acid as the active principles against S. aureus. The in vitro antibacterial and antimycobacterial activities may support the use of Salvia species in traditional medicine to treat microbial infections.