Small molecules from natural sources are not unusual on the shelves of a pharmacy or farmer's store. Plants provide us with agricultural products such as herbicides, fungicides and insecticides as well as cosmetics with anti-ageing and ultraviolet (UV) protection properties. The AGROCOS (From biodiversity to chemodiversity: Novel plant produced compounds with agrochemical and cosmetic interest) consortium brought together partners in natural products, agrochemistry, cosmetics and spectroscopic analysis to find new compounds from biodiversity hotspots in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. AGROCOS screened more than 1 800 plants or plant parts for molecules with promising bioactivity, while eliminating toxic extracts. Researchers identified over 3 600 promising extracts, which have been added to a database. These were all analysed for antimicrobial or UV-resistant properties. From these, 60 extracts were selected to be further processed and screened for agrochemical use and 42 for cosmetics. Three extracts were chosen for cosmetic applications and two for agrochemical use as fungicides. Apart from the obvious advantage of sustainability and eco-efficiency, bioprospecting offers almost endless potential for novel bioactive products. Previously unexploited plants have been discovered, and the systems put in place by AGROCOS will reveal many more over time.
Bioprospecting, biodiversity, bioactive, cosmetic, agricultural, agrochemical