2.3.2 liverworts

The most primitive land plants can produce sophisticated chemical defenses that can also potentially be exploited for medicinal purposes. The liverwort Dumortiera angust, like many other liverworts, produces marchantin C (a phenolic bisbibenzyl), which is an antioxidant and antimicrobial and has been shown to cause apoptosis (programmed cell death) by regulating gene expression in various types of human cancer cell (Shi et al., 2008). Marchantin C is also able to arrest the growth of human cervical cancer cells by disrupting the form and function of microtubules that are crucial to cell division (Shi et al., 2009). A similar ability to induce apoptosis in human breast cancer cells has also been noted for marchantin A, isolated from Marchantia emarginata (Huang et al., 2010). A range of other liverwort species contain other bisbibenzyls with general antimicrobial activity (e.g., Marchantia polymorpha (Niu et al., 2006; Mewari and Kumar, 2008); Schistochila glaucescens (Scher et al., 2002)) and terpenoids (e.g., Conocephalum conicum and Dumortiera hirsuta (Lu et al., 2006)). Indeed, the liverworts Asterella blumeana, Lunularia cruciata, and Scapania undulata contain sesquiterpenes and flavonoids that function as antioxidants and exhibit antimicrobial activity (Basile et al., 1998; Ielpo et al., 1998; Neves et al., 1998; Adio et al., 2004).

Soure: Giacinto Bagetta, Marco Cosentino, Marie Tiziana Corasaniti, Shinobu Sakurada (2012); Herbal Medicines: Development and Validation of Plant-derived Medicines for Human Health; CRC Press

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