Medicinal Plants of Israel: A Model Approach to Enable an Efficient, Extensive, and Comprehensive Field Survey Joseph et al., J Biodivers Biopros Dev 2014 , Gili Joseph1*, Mina Faran1, Ilya Raskin2, Mary Ann Lila3 and Bertold Fridlender1
1Department of Biotechnology, Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem, Israel
2Department of Plant Biology and Pathology Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA
3Department of Food Science, North Carolina State University, Kannapolis, NC, USA
Background: Israel has a large variety of indigenous plants due to its unique geography, connecting three
continents with different climate zones; however, local species have not been systematically screened.
Methods: Plant samples were collected during/immediately after the rainy season from eight climate zones.
Following collection, extracts were created within 24 hours. Field-deployable bioassays assessing 12 types
of antidisease/health protection activity were performed within 48 hours using a rapid, accurate paradigm for
bioexploration based on the Screen to Nature (STN) technique developed by the Global Institute of BioExploration
(GIBEX). Plant extracts were assessed for medicinal activity on a scale of 0 (no activity) to 3 (most potent).
Results: More than 1,100 plant samples derived from 614 plants belonging to 85 families were screened.
Approximately 60% belonged to 12 families, notably the Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Lamiaceaen and Brassicaceae
families. About 60% of samples showed at least one high-potency bioactivity (3/3); 20 plants exhibited 3–4 antidisease/
health protection activities. Plants growing in areas with more extreme conditions showed more bioactivity
compared to those in less harsh climates. Antibacterial and antifungal activity, capacity for glucosidase detection
and inhibition, and antioxidant activity were most common; protozoa, roundworm, and fl at worm lethality, activity for
planaria regeneration, protease detection and inhibition, and anthocyanin were also seen. There were sixteen plant
samples that exhibited activity in a dose response manner using the STN assays as well as in using the Minimum
Inhibitory concentration tests.
Conclusions: The Screen to Nature (STN) technique enables rapid, accurate fi eld-deployable screening of
diverse plant species for multiple anti-infectious/health protection activities. By using this technique at least 16 plant
samples were identifi ed as plants with potential to serve as a source of biological material for medicinal purposes.