Sugar Maple Leaves Could Be A Potential Antibacterial Agent

Disclaimer: The findings discussed are lab based and further studies need to be done.

Many people love maple syrup. It is a delicious natural sweetener that many prefer to have during breakfast. There are endless benefits that can be obtained from consuming maple syrup, but did you know that beautiful maple trees offer great promise to agricultural practices? Research has demonstrated that maple autumn-shed leaf extracts can be used as antibacterials to protect lettuce production from harmful bacteria that attacks every year. 

Bacterial diseases affect the production of lettuce in the United States, Canada, Belgium, and Turkey every year, in order to solve this problem many farmers have opted to use pesticides that have led to bigger issues that affect agriculture, environment, and human health. The good news is that there might be a natural way to combat these diseases affecting lettuce production, and the solution includes maple. 

Researchers M. Delisle-Houde, R.J. Tweddell from the phytology department of the University Laval, Quebec, Canada, conducted a study that tested the antibacterial properties of different natural wastes from different trees, such as barks, branches, needles, or leaves. Later in the study, sugar maple autumn-shed leaves were further tested because of its great efficacy in combating bacterial leaf spots on lettuce. 

During the experiment romaine and head lettuce were grown in plastic pots inside a greenhouse. Waste from twelve different trees was ground in very small pieces and was then mixed with different solvents. The lettuce plants were introduced to the different solvents, and the results were compared to the control group of lettuce plants that had only been introduced to distilled water. During the experiment, researchers were constantly looking for any kind of bacterial spotting presented on lettuce plants. Any presence of spotting was measured and recorded for comparison. The research was repeated several times for more accurate results. 

Out of all the tree wastes used during the experiment the one that demonstrated the greatest antibacterial properties was sugar maple-shed leaf extracts. Researchers explained that  “SMASL extract significantly reduces bacterial leaf spot severity as compared to the control without causing phytotoxicity (toxic effects during plant growth) symptoms that could prevent the commercial marketing of the lettuce.” 

The study demonstrates the possibility to combat the bacterial disease that affects lettuce production with the use of natural maple tree wastes. Exploiting this natural resource would be better for the environment, and human health as compared to the other pesticides. Sugar maple autumn-shed leaf extracts would only defend lettuce from any harmful bacteria, but it would not release harmful chemicals that affect the environment and other plants, and it would not linger in lettuce for humans to consume as pesticides do. Researchers M. Delisle-Houde, R.J. Tweddell explained that “sugar maple autumn-shed leaves extract could eventually be integrated into disease management strategies for lettuce production.” 

Reference: Maxime Delisle-Houde, Russell Tweddell. (2019). Sugar maple autumn-shed leaf extract: a potential antibacterial agent for the management of lettuce bacterial leaf spot. Canadian Journal of Plant Science.