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2022 Speakers

Elisa Ovidi

Elisa Ovidi, Speaker at Plant Science Conferences
Tuscia University, Italy
Title : Biological and chemical characterization of Schinus molle leaf and flower extracts


Plant secondary metabolites are produced and used by organisms for defending or adapting purposes to the environment. Since long time, natural products have been used by humans as healing agents and still today they are the most important source of new potential therapeutic preparations. In this view, numerous research activities aim to define the biological properties of secondary metabolites.

The “pepper tree” Schinus molle L. is an evergreen ornamental plant belonging to the Anacardiaceae family, native in South America and widespread throughout the world. S. molle is a dioecious plant and male and female flowers are present on separate individuals with a sexual dimorphism in floral and other traits. It has peppery smell lanceolate leaves, pendulous branches with yellowish-white flowers arranged in clusters, and coral-red fruits in the size of peppercorns.

Our investigations aim to contribute for a deeper knowledge of the chemical composition and biological properties of male and female flowers and leaves during the off-flowering and flowering seasons of S. molle plants grown in central Italy. The extracts, obtained by using a sequential extraction with solvents of different polarities, and fractions obtained by silica column chromatography were analyzed by GC-MS to define their chemical composition. Cytotoxic activities were carried out performing MTT assays on, neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells and leukemia HL60 cells. Antibacterial activities were tested on the clinically relevant pathogens Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Candida albicans and Bacillus subtilis.

The obtained results showed differences in the chemical composition between male and female flowers and between leaves of male and female plants in flowering and not flowering organisms revealing the presence of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, sesquiterpenes alcohols, monoterpenes and other terpenes with different relative abundance. S. molle extracts and derived fractions possessed interesting cytotoxic and antibacterial activities due to the richness of their chemical composition.

Our investigations confirm that S. molle is an important source of molecules and in this view further studies need to address such compounds for possible uses in aromatherapy and pharmacy.


Dr. Elisa Ovidi got her Master in Biological Science and the PhD Degree in Genetics and Cellular Biology at Tuscia University (Italy). She is a member of the Plant Cytology and Biotechnology of the Natural Substances Laboratory at Tuscia University and is involved in investigations concerning biology and chemistry of natural substances.

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