Friday, 3 April 2020

March phytochemicals: fenugreek and 'maple syrup urine disease'

Ever use fenugreek in a recipe but wonder what those little things actually are? Seeds of Trigonella foenum-graecum (Fabaceae) provide unique flavor to certain curries - also contain trigonelline (a zwitterion - yes!) a methylated form of niacin/vitamin B3 #PhytochemicalFriday

This #PhytochemicalFriday: sotolone, a lactone found in various plants and plant products incl. molasses and rum. It's a powerful aroma and flavor compound - tastes like maple syrup and caramel. Our bodies can also produce it, and in cases of maple syrup urine disease, to excess.

Daffodil bulbs & flowers, with their prominent coronas (the circular, yellow structures), contain lycorine - a toxic alkaloid found across the daffodil family (Amaryllidaceae) - that can inhibit protein synthesis. Do not confuse daffodil bulbs with onions! #PhytochemicalFriday

February phytochemicals: the smell of roses and "mad honey disease"

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! This week, moronic acid, a triterpenoid compound found in some Phoradendron species (Santalaceae, one of my favorite plant families!), as well as Brucea javanica (Simaroubaceae). This compound has been found effective against the herpes simplex virus.

Happy #Valentines2020 / #PhytochemicalFriday! What chemicals make up the scent of roses? Two major contributors are beta-damascenone and beta-damascone. The plant makes these compounds by degrading a carotenoid called neoxanthin (a relative of beta-carotene). #academicvalentine

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday from a snowy visit to @MedPlantChem at @NorthernMichU. Today: grayanotoxin, a compound found in some Ericaceae species, incl. Rhododendron & Agarista. Honey made by bees that solely collect these plants' nectar can be toxic, causing 'mad honey disease'!

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Today, nickel. Not strictly a phytochemical, but something that can accumulate to high levels (higher than in ore!) in many species. The element can be mined from trees as described by Ian Morse in this @NYTScience article:

January Phytochemicals: hops, and compounds in filtered vs. unfiltered coffee

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Today: cafestol, a diterpenoid found in Coffea arabica (#Coffee; Rubiaceae) present in unfiltered preparations like French press coffee, but absent in most filtered drinks like drip coffee. Its bioactive effects are being studied using animal models.

If you enjoy the flavor of hops this #PhytochemicalFriday, you're tasting isohumulones, products of a hop chemical (humulone) as it degrades during brewing. They provide hops a characteristic bitter flavor. Their parent, humulone, seems to act as an antiviral and antimicrobial.

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Today: 3-carene, a piney/earthy smelling monoterpene from pine resins (Pinus species) that can also be a major component of turpentine - a solvent obtained by distilling pine resin. The compound is used in the perfume and chemical industries.