Antibacterial, antifungal and cytotoxic activity of terrestrial cyanobacterial strains from Serbia

Sci China C Life Sci. 2008 Oct;51(10):941-7. doi: 10.1007/s11427-008-0115-8. Epub 2008 Sep 26.


Cyanobacteria are known to be a rich source of biologically active compounds some of which can have pharmaceutical importance. In this work we present the screening results of cyanobacterial strains for their antibacterial, antifungal, and cytotoxic activity. Cyanobacterial strains were isolated from various soil types in province of Vojvodina and Central Serbia, Republic of Serbia. The screening included 9 strains of Anabaena and 9 strains of Nostoc. Both, extracellular products (from the culture liquid) and cellular crude lipophilic extracts were tested against 13 bacterial strains and 8 fungal strains. Cytotoxic activity was tested against three human cell lines. Methanol extracts were prepared according to Østensvik. Antibacterial and antifungal activities were determined measuring inhibition zone, 48 h after inoculation. The cytotoxic activity was determined by sulforhodamine B (SRB) colorimetric assay. Of all cyanobacterial strains tested, 52% showed some antifungal and 41% antibacterial activity. Two out of six tested strains possessed cytotoxic activity. The cytotoxic activity of Anabaena strain S12 was found both in culture liquid and crude cell extract. It occurred specifically between the 21st and 42nd day of cultivation against HeLa and MCF7 cells, but had no activity against cell line derived from a healthy tissue. A high percentage of the active strains among the tested strains justify the effort of screening cyanobacteria that are isolated from terrestrial environments. The most promising strains for the further study are Anabaena strain S12 which showed strong cytotoxic and antibacterial activity and Anabaena strain S20 which produces a potent antifungal compound. The future work, besides further screening and chemical identification of the active compounds, should also include the development of culture techniques that would lead to more efficient production of biologically active compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cyanobacteria / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Serbia


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antifungal Agents