We review the antibacterial and antifungal activities of Piper aduncum L. (Piperaceae), a plant used in traditional medicine in South America and Central America, to treat skin and genito-urinary infections, and gastrointestinal disorders. Literature search in databases like Scopus, PubMed, Scielo and NAPRALERT resulted in 74 references on the in vitro antibacterial and antifungal evaluation of P. aduncum essential oil, aqueous extract, organic extract, fractions or isolated compunds. P. aduncum synonymies search also yield publications of interest. A bibliometric study was carried out. The number of publications per year has been increased in last 20 years, more productive journals were determined. In total 93 microorganisms were assessed, 39 bacteria and 54 fungi. Bacteria were main microorganisms of importance in human or veterinary medicine, while fungi were principally phytopathogens. Essential oil was studied in 47 references, showing effect against a wide group of microorganisms. Besides, infraspecific geographical distribution of this taxon in Cuba and microbial virulence factors as a possible mechanism of action for this medicinal plant was discussed. P. aduncum has potential against microorganisms and in vitro research results partly support the traditional use of this plant. Further studies in vivo and also correlating their phytochemical content with antimicrobial activity are required.
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