Moringa oleifera: A Powerful Source of Environmentally, Medicinally and Biotechnologically Relevant Compounds

Moringa oleifera Lamarck (Moringaceae family) is a plant native from the Western and sub-Himalayan parts of Northwest India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This species is widely cultivated across Africa, South-East  Asia,  Arabia,  South  America  and  Caribbean  Islands. M.  oleifera culture  is  also  being distributed  in  the  Semi-Arid  Northeast  of  Brazil.  It  is  a  multiuse  life  tree  with  great  environmental economic  importance in  industrial and medical areas. This review reports  different purposes of M. oleifera including  sustaining  environmental  resources,  soil  protection  and  shelter  for  animals.  This plant requires not much care and distinct parts have bioactive compounds. Moringa tissues used in human and animal diets, also withdraw pollutants from water. The seeds with coagulant properties used  in  water  treatment  for  human  consumption,  remove  waste  products  like  surfactants,  heavy metals and pesticides. The oil extracted from seeds is used in cosmetic production and as biodiesel. M.  oleifera tissues  also  contain  proteins  with  different  biological  activities,  including  lectins,  chitin-binding  proteins,  trypsin  inhibitors,  and  proteases.  The  lectins  are  reported  to  act  as  insecticidal agents  against Aedes  aegypti (vector  of  dengue,  chikungunya  and  yellow  fevers)  and Anagasta kuehniella (pest  of  stored products) and  also  showed  water  coagulant,  antibacterial,  antineoplastic and blood anticoagulant activities. The presence of trypsin inhibitors has been reported in M. oleifera leaves and flowers. The inhibitor from flowers is toxic to larvae of A.  aegypti and to the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. The flowers also contain caseinolytic proteases that are able to promote clotting of milk. In this sense, M. oleifera is a promising tree from a biotechnological point of view, since it has shown a great variety of uses and it is a source of several compounds with a broad range of biological activities.

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