Evaluation of extracts of wild Cannabis sativa L. for genotoxicity and phytochemical composition


  • Asita Asita National University of Lesotho
  • Dr. S. Magama National University of Lesotho
  • Thato Moahloli National University of Lesotho
  • Selometsi Baholo National University of Lesotho




Medicinal cannabis, Phenolics, Modulatory effects, Cyclophosphamide, Ethyl methanesulphonate, Lesotho.


Cannabis sativa L. is used as medicine and narcotic in Lesotho. Phytochemical composition and total phenolics content (TPC) for hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate a methanol extracts of aerial parts of C. sativa were determined. Ethyl acetate extract (0.1875, 0.375 and 0.75 mg mL-1) and methanol extract (0.75, 1.5 and 3.0 mg mL-1) were evaluated for cytotoxicity, genotoxicity and modulation of cyclophosphamide (CP, 1.25 mg mL-1)- and ethylmethane sulphonate (EMS, 0.25 mg mL-1)-induced genotoxicity using Allium cepa root meristem assay. CP or EMS did not reduce mitotic index (MI) of cells, hence not cytotoxic when compared with negative control using the t-test (p>0.05), but genotoxic. Both extracts were genotoxic with methanol extract also being cytotoxic. Genotoxicity was the number of aberrant cells per 100 mitotic cells. The modulatory effect (ME) was obtained by comparing mutagen-induced genotoxicity with mixture-induced genotoxicity and expressed as the number of units of mutagen-induced genotoxicity that equalled the mixture-induced genotoxicity. ME was either positive or negative and significant only if ME = ≥ 2. Both extracts were genotoxic with methanol extract also being cytotoxic. Aberrations observed were sticky chromosomes, c-metaphase, anaphase and telophase bridges, chromosome fragments and laggards. Mixture of methanol extract with CP or EMS was more genotoxic (+ME range = 1.61-11.89) than the mutagen or extract alone which suggested synergistic interaction. Mixture of ethyl acetate extract with CP induced insignificant +ME. Mixture of ethylacetate extract with EMS was significantly more genotoxic (+ME = 2.20) than EMS only at high extract concentration. TPCs for hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate and methanol extracts were 39831.46, 2544.94, 2438.20 and 56601.12 mg GAE/gram dry weight respectively. The differences in the cytotoxicity and MEs of the extracts were attributed to differences in phytochemical composition.


Keywords: Medicinal cannabis, Phenolics, Modulatory effects, Cyclophosphamide, Ethyl methanesulphonate, Lesotho.

Author Biography

Dr. S. Magama, National University of Lesotho

Senior Lecturer, Department of Biology.


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How to Cite

Asita, A., Magama, S., Moahloli, T., & Baholo , S. (2021). Evaluation of extracts of wild Cannabis sativa L. for genotoxicity and phytochemical composition . Caryologia. International Journal of Cytology, Cytosystematics and Cytogenetics. https://doi.org/10.36253/caryologia-1041