UNAIR NEWS – Indonesia is a country that has high biodiversity and known as Mega Biodiversity country. One of the biodiversity in Indonesia is plants.
However, the knowledge of biodiversity in terms of economy, culture and ecology is low. The wealth of Indonesian plants is a significant potential to be developed and utilized to improve human welfare.
Benalu or mistletoe host is a group of parasitic plants that attack and damage various types of plantations, road ships, and even collection plants. For example, those found in mango plants, tailings plants, tea plants, and many other plants.
Besides, it can cause damage to host plants in large populations, and it can also kill plants that are parasitized. No doubt, parasites are generally considered harmful by the community.
However, Dr. Sucipto Hariyanto, DEA. lecturer in Faculty of Science and Technology (FST) of Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR), explained several types of parasites turned out to have benefits as medicinal plants. The lecturer in biology explained that the haustorium part of the parasite plant has the potential as a medicine.
“The haustorium part of this plant can be useful as a medicine. Haustorium itself is a parasite attached to its host, this part looks swollen and has a unique shape, “he explained.
In Europe, Viscum album parasites have long been used as medicines because they contain many active compounds, such as lectin viscotoxin, flavonoids, terpenoids and certain alkaloids. The content of these compounds can be used for cancer treatment.
“Alkaloids, flavonoids, polyphenols, steroids and quinones which are found in the extracts of the parasite Dendropthoe pentandra can act as anti-microbial agents,” he said.
From the research results, it is known that parasitic tea (Scurrula oortiana) is one of the plants that has been proposed as an anticancer phytopharmaca. Benalu tea is also useful as an anti-malaria. Besides, parasitic extracts that live on lime trees can be used as a remedy for ambient disease and diarrhoea.
Furthermore, the parasite also has potential as a natural anti-microbial material for food. So that foods have a high fiber content can be developed into functional foods.
“However, not all types of parasites can be used as medicine. The knowledge on parasites types is needed, “he concluded. (*)
Author: Erika Eight Novanty
Editor : Khefti Al Mawalia
Reference : Siti Fadliyah, Nofalia Pebriani and Sucipto Hariyanto. 2019. Analysis of mistletoe host preference at Sector C Airlangga University, Surabaya, Indonesia. Ecology, Environment and Conservation Paper