Background and Objectives: Due to overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics, many pathogens are now highly resistant to common antibiotics. This has caused difficulties in controlling disease, particularly in developing countries, where infectious, enteric and diarrheal diseases are a leading cause of illness and mortality. The purpose of this study was to determine the antimicrobial activity of Qatar's local desert plants in an effort to find potential new sources of antimicrobial agents that may be effective in the fight against existing and emerging infections. Methods: Nineteen desert plants were collected in the winter of 2011. Their parts were separated into flower, leaf, stem and root, and, in one plant, seeds. Each plant part was extracted with water, hexane and methane. The plant extracts were tested for their antimicrobial activity against 10 Gram-positive and Gram-negative common human pathogenic bacteria as well as a fungus--Candida albicans. The Kirby-Bauer disk diffusion method was used for testing, and the resulting zone of inhibition, which indicates antimicrobial activity, was measured and recorded. Results: All nineteen plants included in this study demonstrated some antimicrobial activity in one of the four plant parts. Paronychia argyrocoma showed the strongest activity, inhibiting growth in both Gram-negative and Gram-positive microorganisms in all extracts. Salvia aegyptiaca, Pulicaria undulata, Althea ludwigii, and Vicoa pentanema also exhibited positive results in all extracts in many of the plant sections. Conclusions: This study indicates that many of the desert plants tested are an important source of antimicrobial compounds. Several plants showed remarkable antimicrobial effects against a wide variety of Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens. This study supports the use of these local plants in traditional medicine and may provide sustainable and new sources of antimicrobial agents. Further studies are needed on the most active plants to explore the development of new antimicrobial drugs.


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