Friday, 1 February 2019

January Phytochemicals - New discoveries and the chemistry behind cedar wardrobes

Plants Are Chemists 2019 to occasionally highlight phytochemical research! First installments:
Tropinone: @plantgenmsu, via @NatureComms, reports on alkaloid biosynthesis in deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), including precursors to important medicines scopolamine, hyoscyamine, & atropine.

Camphor: a monoterpene found in Cinnamomum spp. (genome released this month in @NaturePlants!) used widely in perfumes as well as traditional and modern medicines (incl. Vick's VapoRub) as cough suppressant and decongestant.

Himachalenes: bicyclic sesquiterpenes from some cedars (like Cedrus atlantica) that comprise most of the wood's oil - are thought to contribute to the moth-repelling properties of cedar chests, and are also present in cedar essential oil.

Tovarol: a cyclic compound found in "deadly carrots" - species in the Thapsia genus (relatives of carrot) used in traditional medicine. The genes controlling the biosynthesis of this bioactive sesquiterpene were recently discovered by @MosspirationBio and colleagues.