Faculty Sponsor

Danielle Orozco-Nunnelly


Arts and Sciences



ORCID Identifier(s)

0000-0002-1205-321X, 0000-0003-3381-0504

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Summer 7-30-2018


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 used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including skin diseases and intestinal infections, with reported antimicrobial properties. However, these properties are poorly understood and no bioactive compounds have yet been identified in the plant to account for this antimicrobial action. Herein, we describe the growth conditions and preliminarily characterize the antibiotic effects of different parts of the A. mexicana plant. We report that 2 mg of A. mexicana methanol root extract possesses antibacterial activity against the bacteria Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus, while the same concentration has no inhibitory effect on the fungus Candida albicans. Moreover, the methanol root fraction displays a stronger antibacterial effect, when compared to either the methanol seed or leaf fractions at the same concentrations and normalized to background solvent alone. Additionally, we show that when supplemented with 1000 mg/L of the phytohormone gibberellic acid (GA), germination rates of A. mexicana are significantly increased when compared to germination with either no GA or 100 mg/L GA. These preliminary results warrant further research into defining the antimicrobial properties and chemicals produced in the roots of these plants and are especially significant given the growing global concern of antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ and lack of new antimicrobial drug discovery.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

My current intentions entering into my Junior year at Valparaiso are to explore and consider a graduate career in Biological and Chemical research. I have also developed an interest in mass spectrometry and have a passion for both wet-lab research techniques and data-analysis. As a student in Dr. Nunnelly's laboratory class, I became interested in her area of research while discussing mutual interests of applying chemistry methodology to study biological questions. I hope to bring the chemistry research experience gained in Dr. Rowe’s laboratory to Dr. Nunnelly’s laboratory.