• Plant profiles;
  • Tropical rainforests;
  • Cytotoxicity;
  • Plant secondary metabolites;
  • Antitumor drug discovery;
  • Inhibitors;
  • Analysis of variance (ANOVA);
  • Metabolites


In an attempt to determine the relationships between the plant profiles (country of collection, taxonomy, plant part) and the compound classes isolated with cytotoxic activity against a panel of human tumor cell lines, the data compiled from a 15-year anticancer drug-discovery project were subjected to an analysis of variance (ANOVA). The results indicate significant trends in cytotoxic activity relative to collection location, taxonomy, plant part, and compound classes isolated. Plant collections were made in tropical forests in six countries, with collections from Ecuador resulting in higher activity than those from Indonesia and Peru. Interestingly, collections from Florida were not statistically different than those from the countries with higher biodiversity. One hundred and forty-five families were represented in the collections, with the Clusiaceae, Elaeocarpaceae, Meliaceae, and Rubiaceae having low ED50 (half maximal effective dose) values. Especially active genera included Aglaia, Casearia, Exostema, Mallotus, and Trichosanthes. Roots and below-ground plant materials were significantly more active than above-ground materials. Cucurbitacins, flavaglines, anthraquinones, fatty acids, tropane alkaloids, lignans, and sesquiterpenoids were significantly more active than xanthones and oligorhamnosides. The results from this study should serve as a guide for future plant collection endeavors for anticancer drug discovery.