Ghaf Tree Research by ADU Student
23 September 2019
Research conducted by Mariam Alhadhrami, Public Health student, and her supervisor Dr. Asiya, has been mentioned in the news. The research focuses on the use of the Ghaf tree in herbal medicine, particularly in treating dermatological diseases and rheumatism.
In developing countries, herbal medicines are the mainstay of treatment in 75-80% of the population. The reasons for this is that they are cheaper and have few side effects. Natural sources are the oldest method of treatment and approximately 25% of medicines originate from natural sources. Prosopis cineraria (Ghaf) is a tree or small shrub and can be found in various desert locations throughout the Gulf countries but specifically in the UAE, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. The Ghaf is a drought-tolerant, evergreen tree which is, possibly, the sturdiest plant in the harsh desert environment. In the UAE it can be seen growing on low sand dunes, undulating sand sheets, and along margins of gravel plains mostly in the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, and Ras Al Khaimah.
Prosopis cinerarium is used extensively in the treatment of boils, skin disorders, as a blood purifier, and for dysentery. While there have been enormous efforts to protect and grow the Ghaf tree, few studies have been done on its microbiological composition, specifically its endophytes. Endophytic fungi are the micro-organisms that spend whole or part of their life cycle colonizing the internal healthy tissues of the host plant, typically causing no apparent symptoms of disease. This kind of study will help determine the relationship that exists between the host and the endophyte through a series of fungal samples extraction. Understanding the nature of this relationship will help with the development of methods to protect the Ghaf tree.
Mariam’s research will look at the functional characterization of the endophytic fungi isolated from traditional medicinal plants and evaluate the secondary metabolites produced by these microbes for anti-microbial agents. The aim is to produce acetylcholine esterase inhibitor, which is useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, anti-oxidant activity, and anti-cancer activity.