Well-Being from Plants: Potential of Resurrection Plants for Phyto-Cosmetic and Phyto-Pharmaceutical Applications

Starting date
January 1, 2018
Duration (months)
Managers or local contacts
Furini Antonella

Plants and natural extracts have been used for their benefits to beauty and health for millennia. Indeed, natural-derived compounds are characterized by effective biological activities, biochemical specificity and other properties that make them unique as lead structures for drug development. Since less than 10% of the global biodiversity has been evaluated for potential biological activity, many more useful natural compounds, particularly from species found in extreme environments, await to be discovered. THE OBJECTIVE OF THIS PROJECT is to find novel natural products from unexplored plant species to be used for phyto-cosmetic and –pharmaceutical purposes. RESURRECTION PLANTS have the ability to withstand dehydration and revive when water becomes available. The synthesis of various compatible solutes to maintain membrane integrity, the production of antioxidants and the subcellular re-organization help to minimize damage associated to water loss. Three species of RESURRECTION PLANTS have been selected for this study and used to establish totipotent suspension cell cultures. The effect of stress treatments on the accumulation of protective metabolites will be analyzed. In vitro and in vivo assays will be performed to test the lack of cytotoxicity, sensitization or skin irritation and the effectiveness of these resurrection plant totipotent cell cultures to be used as cosmetic ingredients. RNAseq analysis will be performed on cells both maintained in standard growth condition and stress treated to identify genes responsible for CELL PROTECTION DURING DEHYDRATION AND SUBSEQUENT CELL REVIVAL. On the same cells, polar and apolar extracts will be produced and characterized to identify active compounds. A small scale market analysis will be carried out to evaluate the interest for natural compounds, with the final goal of making and marketing phyto-pharmaceutical and -cosmetic products from resurrection plant cell-derived materials.


Funds: assigned and managed by the department

Project participants

Antonella Furini
Full Professor


Research facilities