Most fungi occur in nature and utilize simple sources of carbohydrates and nitrogen for growth. Sabouraud's dextrose agar has been an ideal medium for primary isolation of fungi from clinical specimens, but for specimens from nonsterile sites or heavily contaminated ones, it has been necessary to include inhibitory substances such as antibiotics like chloramphenicol (antibacterial) and cycloheximide (antifungal). The problems we have in the our laboratory owing to frequent contamination of cultures and the delays in the procurement of cycloheximide have stimulated a search for alternatives in our local environment to enhance effective laboratory diagnoses of fungal infections. Purified extracts of the leaves and bark of Jatropha curcas and Moringa oleifera (common plants in our locality) were tested against clinical isolates of fungi at various concentrations to determine the minimum inhibitory concentration at which common fungal contaminants are inhibited, without affecting the growth of the pathogenic fungi sought for. At a concentration of 0.75 mg ml(-1) contaminants were totally inhibited by the leaf extracts. The bark extracts did not inhibit any fungus even at higher concentrations. From the results it was evident that the leaf extracts of both plants have potentials for use as inhibitory substances in culture media against contaminant fungi including Aspergillus spp., Penicillium spp., etc. J. curcas and M. oleifera are very common plants in our locality. They can be obtained at almost no cost and at any time needed. The benefits of these findings to mycology laboratories in a developing country are enormous.
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