Developing a natural products extract library based on the biodiversity of the Southern Appalachian Mountains
Natural product and biotechnology research demands taxonomically verified plant material of known genetic origins to produce high quality, reproducible results. Additionally, there is a need for a source of plant material known to be adulterants in commercial botanical products to develop screening methods. Historically germplasm collections focused on the long-term conservation of major crop species and their wild relatives. As a result, medicinal plants are under-represented in many germplasm collections. The Bent Creek Germplasm Repository (BCRG) at The North Carolina Arboretum, UNC maintains an extensive collection of sustainably sourced, taxonomically verified medicinal plant germplasm of known genetic origin focused on the extensive botanical diversity of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The extensive collections of the BCGR are currently being used to develop a research library of natural products extracts. The library consists of alcoholic and aqueous extracts of botanical material and organic and aqueous extracts of cultured endophtyic fungi isolated from plant material. The library will be screened for bioactivity to identify active compounds for botanically based products and potential drug leads. The inclusion of endophytes with the plants allows the investigation of natural products from fungal cultures. And the potential for rapid scale up using preserved endophytic material for structural determination and future research. The BCGR is currently seeking collaboration with laboratories and researchers interested in screening the natural products library.