LC-DAD-MS phenolic characterisation of six invasive plant species in Croatia and determination of their antimicrobial and cytotoxic activity.
Invasive plants' phytochemicals are important for their invasiveness, enabling them to spread in new environments. However, these chemicals could offer many pharmaceutical compounds or active ingredients for herbal preparations. This study provides the first LC-MS phytochemical screening of six invasive alien plant species (IAPS) in the Istria region (Croatia): Ailanthus altissima, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, Conyza canadensis, Dittrichia viscosa, Erigeron annuus, and Xanthium strumarium. The study aims to identify and quantify the phenolic content of their leaf extracts and assess their antimicrobial and cytotoxic potential. A total of 32 species-specific compounds were recorded. Neochlorogenic, chlorogenic, and 5-p-coumaroylquinic acids, quercetin-3-glucoside, and kaempferol hexoside were detected in all the tested IAPS. Hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives were the main components in all the tested IAPS, except in E. annuus, where flavanones dominated with a share of 70%. X. strumarium extract had the best activity against the tested bacteria, with an average MIC value of 0.11 mg/mL, while A. altissima and X. strumarium extracts had the best activity against the tested fungi, with an average MIC value of 0.21 mg/mL in both cases. All the plant extracts studied, except X. strumarium, were less cytotoxic than the positive control. The results provided additional information on the phytochemical properties of IAPS and their potential for use as antimicrobial agents.