Major Australian tropical fruits biodiversity: Bioactive compounds and their bioactivities



The plant kingdom harbours many diverse bioactive molecules of pharmacological relevance. Temperate fruits and vegetables have been highly studied in this regard, but there have been fewer studies of fruits and vegetables from the tropics. As global consumers demand and are prepared to pay for new appealing and exotic foods, tropical fruits are now being more intensively investigated. Polyphenols and major classes of compounds like flavonoids or carotenoids are ubiquitously present in these fruits, as they are in the temperate ones, but particular classes of compounds are unique to tropical fruits and other plant parts. Bioactivity studies of compounds specific to tropical fruit plants may lead to new drug discoveries, while the synergistic action of the wide range of diverse compounds contained in plant extracts underlies nutritional and health properties of tropical fruits and vegetables. The evidence for in vitro and animal bioactivities is a strong indicator of the pharmacological promise shown in tropical fruit plant biodiversity. In this review, we will discuss both the occurrence of potential bioactive compounds isolated and identified from a selection of tropical fruit plants of importance in Australia, as well as recent studies of bioactivity associated with such fruits and other fruit plant parts.