Planta Med 2008; 74(6): 594-602
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1074518
Plenary Lecture
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Phytochemicals for Bacterial Resistance - Strengths, Weaknesses and Opportunities

Simon Gibbons1
  • 1Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, The School of Pharmacy, University of London, London, U.K.
Further Information

Publication History

Received: January 24, 2008 Revised: March 12, 2008

Accepted: March 16, 2008

Publication Date:
29 April 2008 (online)


This review covers some of the opportunities which currently exist to exploit plants for their natural products as templates for new antibacterial substances. This is a timely exercise given the continuing and developing problems of bacterial resistance, and in particular multidrug-resistance (MDR). Some of the challenges which are evident with bacterial resistance will be described and the strengths and weaknesses of plant natural products are highlighted. Opportunities to characterise antibacterial compounds from several key taxa are described with activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), MDR variants of this species and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). These pathogens continue to cause problems in terms of their eradication and spread and MTB strains which are extremely-drug resistant (XDR) promise to afford an additional challenge for clinicians. The review also covers plant natural products that modulate or modify bacterial resistance. Specific examples include plant-derived efflux pump inhibitors (EPIs) which inhibit bacterial antibiotic efflux mechanisms that are problematic due to their broadness in substrate specificity. A summary on future trends and directions in this fruitful and interesting area is also given.


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Simon Gibbons

Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy

The School of Pharmacy

University of London

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