A pioneer tree that connects ecosystem recovery and human health: Pentaclethra macroloba

Date and Time: 
Friday, 18 March, 2016 - 14:00
, Daniela - Kean University
, Angela - Kean University

The lowland tropical wet forests of the Northern Zone of Costa Rica have undergone decades of deforestation. Petaclethra macroloba is a dominant tree species that accelerates ecosystem recovery by fixing nitrogen in otherwise nutrient-poor soils. Local people apply the bark topically as an antifungal medicine. This study links P. macroloba’s ecological effects on soil chemistry and plant diversity to effects on human health. We interviewed local people about their use and preparation of the plant and harvested samples for analysis. Disc diffusion assays showed strong inhibition of the fungus Candida albicans, and not as strong results for the bacteria that we used in assays. G-C Headspace Chromatography identified compounds within P. macroloba that may be responsible for its use as an antifungal medicine and for wound regeneration. In addition, these analyses provide insight to potential causes for its ability to alter soil chemistry and facilitate nutrient recovery following disturbance.