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Abstract Detail


Makunga, Nokwanda [1].

People, plants and technology: a formidable threesome in a biodiversity hotspot.

South Africa, a home to three of the world’s diversity hotspots, is blessed with an incredible floral heritage that forms the basis for medicinal use by local people. Firstly, this paper traces the trends and opportunities attached to the ethnobotany of the this region. Changing patterns in plant use over the past decade are discussed in relationship to the Cape bush doctor community and the traditional healers of the Eastern Cape that are reliant on forest species for their livelihoods. As one of six floral kingdoms of the world, the Cape Floristic Region is renowned for its high species endemism and historically the Cape has seen many biocultural influences that have led to a unique and varied ethnobotany. It is also intimately associated with the ancient culture of the Khoi and San and this provides for a fascinating recordal of ancient knowledge carried by those that practise ‘bush medicine’. The largest consumers and traders of medicinal plants in the region are ‘bossiedokters’ or bush doctors. They currently lead the commodification of medicinal flora locally. Secondly, I highlight how the patterns of plant use are important as leads for biotechnology-assisted conservation of key genera. Utilising metabolomic strategies to study the geospatial influences in the medicinal legume, Sutherlandia frutescens, illustrates the powerful resolution of LC-MS based technologies in identifying signatures that are important in delineating populations of this species. An ancient remedy of the KhoiSan that is now being commercialised for neuropyschological disorders, Sceletium tortuosum, is an useful tool for studying the regulation of mesembrine alkaloids. Finally, example; together with my team, we have identified the extract of Dodonaea viscosa as an adjuvant therapy due to its apoptotic properties against breast cancer. Using metabolomic approaches, we have identified chemical signatures that will assist in the commercialisation and domestication of this species. This particular project reinforces the benefits of engaging communities of traditional healers as part of a bioprospecting research platform. The data illustrate the exciting potential of medicinal biodiversity of South Africa that still remains chemically under explored.

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1 - Stellenbosch University, Botany And Zoology, Private Bag X1, Matieland, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa

medicinal plant
indigenous knowledge

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 41, Ethnobotany
Location: 109/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Wednesday, July 25th, 2018
Time: 10:45 AM
Number: 41003
Abstract ID:958
Candidate for Awards:None

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