Background: Due to its unique geography, and diverse climate zones, Palestine has a large variety of native plants. However, local species have not been systematically screened for their biological activities.
Methods: Plant samples were collected from 76 natural sites distributed in different geographical and climate zones. Samples were assessed for thirteen types of anti-disease/health protection activity using field-deployable bioassays based on the Screen to Nature (STN) technique developed by the Global Institute of Bio-Exploration (GIBEX). Plant extracts were assessed for medicinal activity on a scale of 0 (no activity) to 3 (most potent). Results: More than 1470 plant samples derived from 588 plant species belonging to 100 families were screened. Approximately 329 species (56%) belonged to 12 families, notably the Papilionaseae, Asteraceae, Liliaceae, Lamiaceae, Brassicaceae, and Apiaceae families. About 93% (1369/1471) of the extracts showed at least one high-potency bioactivity (3/3); 16.4% (241/1471) extracts exhibited 4-5 antiinfectious activities. Plants growing in areas with more extreme conditions (Irano-Turanian and Sudanian Penetration Territories) showed more bioactivity compared to those in less harsh climates (Mediterranean Territory) Antiradical activity, glucosidase inhibition, amylase inhibition, planaria lethality, and glucosidase activity were most common; antibacterial, antifungal, protozoa lethality, protease inhibition, planaria regeneration, anthocyanin, round worm lethality, and protease activity were also seen.
Conclusions: The Screen to Nature (STN) technique enables rapid, accurate field-deployable screening of diverse plant species for multiple anti-infectious/health protection activities. By using this technique several plant samples were identified as plants with potential to serve as a source of biological material for medicinal purposes.