Full Paper

Bioactivity of phytochemicals in some lesser-known plants and their effects and potential applications in livestock and aquaculture production systems

H. P. S. Makkara1 c1, G. Francisa1 and K. Beckera1

a1 Institute for Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics (480b), University of Hohenheim, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany


Livestock and aquaculture production is under political and social pressure, especially in the European Union (EU), to decrease pollution and environmental damage arising due to animal agriculture. The EU has banned the use of antibiotics and other chemicals, which have been shown to be effective in promoting growth and reducing environment pollutants because of the risk caused to humans by chemical residues in food and by antibiotic resistance being passed on to human pathogens. As a result of this, scientists have intensified efforts in exploiting plants, plant extracts or natural plant compounds as potential natural alternatives for enhancing the livestock productivity. This paper discusses work on the effects of various phytochemicals and plant secondary metabolites in ruminant and fish species. The focus is on (i) plants such as Ananas comosus (pine apple), Momordica charantia (bitter gourd) and Azadirachta indica (neem) containing anthelmintic compounds and for their use for controlling internal parasites; (ii) plants containing polyphenols and their applications for protecting proteins from degradation in the rumen, increasing efficiency of microbial protein synthesis in rumen and decreasing methane emission; for using as antioxidants, antibacterial and antihelmintic agents; and for changing meat colour and for increasing n-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid in meat; (iii) saponin-rich plants such as quillaja, yucca and Sapindus saponaria for increasing the efficiency of rumen fermentation, decreasing methane emission and enhancing growth; for producing desired nutritional attributes such as lowering of cholesterol in monogastric animals; for increasing growth of fish (common carp and Nile tilapia) and for changing male to female ratio in tilapia; and for use as molluscicidal agents; (iv) Moringa oleifera leaves as a source of plant growth factor(s), antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and various glucosinolates and their degraded products for possible use as antibacterial, antioxidant, anticarcinogenic and antipest agents; (v) Jatropha curcas toxic variety with high levels of various phytochemicals such as trypsin inhibitor, lectin, phytate and phorbol esters in seeds limiting the use of seed meal in fish and livestock diets; and the use of phorbol esters as bio-pesticidal agent; and (vi) lesser-known legumes such as Entada phaseoloides seeds containing high levels of trypsin inhibitor and saponins, Sesbania aculeate seeds rich in non-starch polysaccharides and Mucuna pruriens var. utilis seeds rich in l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine and their potential as fish feed; Cassia fistula seeds as a source of antioxidants; and the use of Canavalia ensiformis, C. gladiata and C. virosa seeds containing high levels of trypsin inhinitor, lectins and canavanine. The paper also presents some challenges and future areas of work in this field.

(Received October 23 2006)

(Accepted February 16 2007)


c1 E-mail: makkar@uni-hohenheim.de