Markéta Houdková

Plant material collection in Philippines

Our team from Laboratory of Ethnobotany and Ethnopharmacology studies biological activities of medicinal plants, which are usually collected in various tropical areas of Asia, South America, and Africa. This year we went to collect plant material in Philippines.

My research is focused on testing antibacterial activity of essential oils against bacteria causing respiratory infections. Pneumonia, bronchitis, and tuberculosis belong to leading causes of morbidity and mortality especially in low-income countries such as Philippines. Many people live below the line of poverty there; medical treatment is too expensive for them and hardly available. Plant essential oils are of great potential for effective therapy of respiratory diseases in developing countries.

My task was to look for plants with strong scent because essential oils are responsible for their aroma. Then we can obtain essential oils from plants by distillation. Our base was Visayas State University in Baybay. Campus of this university is washed by sea from one side and lined with sandy beaches, on the other side there are sky towering mountains covered by tropical rainforests. In this jungle we have made several expeditions and we were looking for plant samples there. Surprising fact for us was that neither the mosquitoes and other similar crap annoyed us, nor snakes, spiders and other dangerous animals scared us, our steps were accompanied only by colorful butterflies and dragonflies thus we could calmly concentrate on collecting of plant material. Finally, we always rewarded ourselves for a well-done job by refreshing bathing in the river or in the sea and by delicious local specialties in traditional Philippines restaurants.

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