Invasive species pose a global threat to biodiversity. Introduced species can become invasive and suppress native ones, affect ecosystem processes and functioning, disrupt ecosystem service delivery and cause substantial economic losses.

However, both native and introduced non native species have significant social, economic, landscape and ecological value and provide a range of ecosystem services. Since today it is very difficult to avoid the introduction and spread of alien species, we are faced with the challenging task of achieving and maintaining balance in the so-called “New Ecosystems”. How to achieve this? The project NATURALLY wants to explore one of the possibilities.

Because invasive species reproduce relatively quickly and easily, they are available in large quantities and represent an excellent and readily available biomaterial for further research. The project’s starting point is based on new knowledge about the richness and diversity of specific metabolites discovered in invasive plant species and the possibility of their use as a source of valuable bioactive phytochemicals and powerful antioxidants, with application in the pharmaceutical industry.


The main goal of this project is to investigate the phytopharmaceutical potential of natural extracts of four invasive alien species: Ailanthus altissima – Three of heaven, Robinia pseudoacacia – Black locust, Helianthus tuberosusJerusalem artichoke, Solidago canadensis – Canada goldenrod, in Istria (Croatia) as a basis for new ecosystem services. The project aims to open new vistas and lead to new insights related to the biopharmaceutical potential of alien invasive plant species, which will potentially contribute to the development of the Croatian bioeconomic sector, as well as global health and quality of life.


To perform chemical (phenolics) profiling of invasive alien plant species (IAPS) extracts by liquid chromatography–mass
spectrometry (LC-MS)

To determine antioxidative, antimicrobial, antiproliferative, cytotoxic and genotoxic properties of IAPS extracts

To isolate specific extract fractions and compare their to the biological properties of the whole IAPS

To estimate the IAPS potential for the application in phytopharmacy

To propose the model for exploring new IAPS provisioning ecosystem services on the pilot territory of Istria in order to attenuate their negative effects on environments

Publishing and dissemination of results

NATURe as an ALLY: Alien invasive plants as phytopharmaceuticals

Project duration
29. 1. 2021. do 28. 1. 2025.

Project leader
dr.sc. Danijela Poljuha

Project value
1.260.500,00 kn

Project is funded by the Croatian Science Foundation (IP-2020-02-6899)