Natural Products Research Programme
Using natural products to improve the quality of human lives
The overall objective of the Natural Products Project at the NIFS is the identification of bioactive extracts and compounds from natural sources as potential resources for control of human and plant diseases. Research activities focus on understanding the chemistry and bioactivity of secondary metabolites from plants, fungi (including endophytic fungi) and edible fruits of Sri Lanka. Another area of research is the identification of polyphenols found in tea, medicinal plants, edible fruits and spices using Liquid Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (LCMS) and studies on the cause and control of post harvest fungal diseases and disorders, including one hitherto unknown disorder, of edible and export-oriented fruit crops. These research activities represent basic research conducted in the field of natural products chemistry, pharmaceutical research and new materials.
Research activities of the Natural Products Project at the NIFS are focussed mainly in the following areas:
- Investigation of extracts from plant sources and, epiphytic and endophytic fungi, for use in agriculture and human health
- Chemistry and bioactivity of edible fruits
- Plant secondary metabolites and LC-MS profiling of bioactive extracts
- Cause and control of post harvest fungal diseases and disorders of edible and export-oriented fruits.
Why does this matter ?
Natural products are compounds produced by plants, fungi, marine organisms etc. These compounds can be used to improve the quality of human life. Although there are over 3500 flowering plants inhabiting Sri Lanka, including ~800 endemics, relatively low numbers of plants have been chemically and biologically investigated. Of these 3500 plant species, about 750 are claimed to have uses in indigenous medicine. The fungal flora native to Sri Lanka number around 25,000 and a vast majority of these are yet to be studied to uncover the presence of bioactive metabolites. It is imperative that this is done because we believe using natural products in the management and treatment of diseases and disorders of humans and plants offers a lesser risk than when using synthetic compounds.