Monday, 10 February 2020

December phytochemicals: more than 100 weeks of #PhytochemicalFriday!

Indigotin: the chemical responsible for the color indigo. Originally isolated from Indigofera tinctoria (bean family) and woad (Isatis tinctoria, mustard family), it is among the first dyes used for textile dyeing and was so valuable it was called blue gold #PhytochemicalFriday

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Rotenone - an isoflavone highly toxic to fish and insects - is found in some plants in the bean family, including jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus). Historically, such plants were crushed and put in ponds, compelling fish to the surface for easy capture.

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Phellandrenes (combined with the pinenes - last year's late Dec. post) are isomeric monoterpenes and major contributors to the smell of balsam tree resin, which may perfume many houses this time of year. Thank you @HarvLovesAcct for the inspiration!

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday from #PAGXXVIII #PAG2020! Today: Aconitine: deadly poison from Aconitum spp. (aka Monkshood / Wolf's-bane) that features in modern mysteries and literature from Ancient Rome (Ovid). The alkaloid binds sodium ion channels & interferes with neuron firing.

Monday, 3 February 2020

November phytochemicals: the smell of garlic and the color of mac and cheese

Running a bit behind on the phytochemicals... but never fear: we'll catch up!
Happy #PhytochemicalFriday (and Halloween)! Today: diarylheptanoids - compounds found in various plants, including Tacca chantrieri (black bat flower: spooky!). This class of compounds includes curcumin (turmeric), and cyclic compounds (dotted orange bond) - many are antioxidants.

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Today: allicin, a (zwitterionic!) compound from garlic. Normal garlic cells contain alliin (an amino acid-like compound), but crushing garlic exposes alliin to an enzyme that converts it into allicin - the major contributor to the aroma of fresh garlic.

Bixin! An apocarotenoid from Bixa orellana (achiote) - a compound in the food additive annatto - an orange/red extract from achiote seeds. As ground seed, this compound is used in many South and Central American dishes and is used to color Gloucester cheese! #PhytochemicalFriday.

Galantamine, alkaloid from Galanthus spp. (snowdrops; Amaryllidaceae, perhaps antidote to Circe's poisons in Homer's Odyssey), not only has a very cool tetracyclic structure, but has been used to treat cognitive decline (Alzheimer's disease) and autism. #PhytochemicalFriday.