Biomolecules in Maine bogs
The field of natural products chemistry is a new aspect of chemistry at Colby. The search for bioactive compounds in Sphagnum has been given minimal attention in the realm of natural products chemistry at Colby. Six samples of Sphagnum magellanicum , taken from varying depths of the peat mat, were gathered from the Great Bog, in Belgrade, ME. The depths ranged from the surface layer to 360 cm below the surface. Following the standard extraction procedures, chromatographic methods were employed. The evidence for the presence of molecules in the fractions was initially measured with UV light. The UV active fractions were then further measured against two strains of bacteria. The process of identification of the extracted compounds was begun with NMR work and Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometry. From the NMR spectra, the majority of the compounds extracted appeared to contain many heteroatoms such as oxygen and nitrogen. All of the UV active fractions were tested against Micrococcus luieus, a gram positive bacteria, and Escherichia coli, a gram negative bacteria. No growth inhibitory effects were seen from the fractions. Thus, from this particular study, Sphagnum magellanicum does not appear to have any antibacterial effects. Bioactivity levels within Sphagnum species can change due to season of collection, age of the plants and the ecological niche in which the moss is found. By testing the deeper samples and finding no activity beyond 15 cm below the surface, the amount of activity was definitely affected by the age of the plants. The other two factors of bioactivity change have yet to be tested.