Tuesday, 2 July 2019

June phytochemicals: the start of Project #ChemicalBlooms!

Did you know that capsaicin is not the only spicy molecule in peppers (Capsicum)? Several structural variants can also accumulate to substantial levels: dihydrocapsaicin is about as spicy as capsaicin itself; nordihydrocapsaicin, about half as spicy.

Aristolochic acid, a biosynthetic relative of morphine: found in the birthwort family Aristolochiaceae, it toxifies some butterflies that grow up on such plants. Birthworts are used in traditional medicine, but the acid is linked to kidney issues and cancer.

CALLING ALL BIOPROSPECTORS! Seen white coatings on plants? Each is unique, on Dudleya brittonii, it's mainly amyrins - bioactive & protective compounds. Help advance our understanding of these coatings: join Project #ChemicalBlooms: http://lucasbusta.github.io/citizen_science. Please send pics of chemical blooms on twitter (@PlantsRChemists), instagram (@chemical_blooms), or email chemicalblooms@gmail.com for a bioprospecting kit - sample the blooms yourself and send them in for analysis using the included stamped envelope. Best #FirstDayofSummer ever!

Reserpine, used in combo with other compounds to treat high blood pressure. Structurally, a combo of aromatic amino acid and terpenoid pathway products. Found in Rauvolfia serpentina (indian snakeroot; milkweed family) occurring in combo with other alkaloids.