Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Danielle A. Orozco-Nunnelly


Arts and Sciences



ORCID Identifier(s)

0000-0003-3381-0504, 0000-0001-5835-9014

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-28-2022


Commonly called the Mexican prickly poppy, Argemone mexicana is a stress-resistant member of the Papaveraceae family of plants that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries by indigenous communities in Mexico and Western parts of the United States. This plant has been exploited to treat a wide variety of ailments, with reported antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, as well as cytotoxic effects against some human cancer cell lines. Due to its various therapeutic uses and its abundance of secondary metabolites, A. mexicana has great potential as a drug discovery candidate. Herein, the cytotoxic activities of different parts (seeds, leaves, inner vs. outer roots) of the plant from methanol or hexane extracts are preliminarily characterized against cells of seven unique organisms. When comparing 1 mg of each sample normalized to background solvent alone, A. mexicana methanol outer root and leaf extracts possessed the strongest antimicrobial activity, with greatest effects against the Gram-positive bacteria tested, and less activity against the Gram-negative bacteria and fungi tested. Additionally, the outer root methanol and seed hexane extracts displayed pronounced inhibitory effects against human colon cancer cells. Quantification of c-MYC (oncogene) and APC (tumor suppressor) mRNA levels help elucidate how the A. mexicana root methanol extract may be affecting colon cancer cells. After ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry and subsequent nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of the root and leaf methanol fractions, two main antibacterial compounds, chelerythrine and berberine, have been identified. The roots were found to possess both phytocompounds, while the leaf lacked chelerythrine.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

We are a group of Valparaiso University undergraduate students in the Biology department presenting our research in the lab of Dr. Danielle A. Orozco-Nunnelly.