Friday, 2 October 2020

September phytochemicals! Why are shrimp and flamingos pink?

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Today's suggestion from @YankeeLady76. Spilanthol: a fatty amide from the 'electric daisy' Acmella oleracea. Chewing the plant's flowers releases spilanthol into the mouth, causing a tingling, static-like sensation. Signature cocktail ingredient!

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Today: alpha-Eleostearic acid, the primary component of tung oil - a wood finish that is believed to have been used since before the common era. The oil is harvested from Vernicia fordii (Euphorbiaceae!?) - a tree with separate male and female flowers.
Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Today: miraculin - a glycoprotein from the miracle fruit Synsepalum dulcificum (Sapotaceae; Ericales). It binds to sweetness receptors on the tongue and makes normally sour-tasting food seem sweet, inspiring the name 'miracle berry'. Try it out!
Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Why are flamingos and shrimp pink? Astaxanthin - a blood-red ketocarotenoid made by microalgae that makes its way up the food chain to chordates and arthropods (among others), giving them a pink hue. An important molecule to consider in aquaculture.

August Phytochemicals! From balsa wood rafts to oleandrin

On this date in 1947, Thor Heyerdahl's balsa wood raft "Kon-Tiki" crashed into a reef in Polynesia having crossed 5000 miles of Pacific Ocean in 3.5 months. The raft's strength came from lignin, but also cellulose - the most abundant organic polymer on Earth. #PhytochemicalFriday

Happy #PhytochemicalFriday! Today: helenalin, a sesquiterpene lactone from Arnica montana (Asteraceae: sunflower family!). Though a toxic (plant defense?) compound, it appears to be able to inhibit human telomerase and is thus being investigated as an antitumor agent.
#PhytochemicalFriday? Oleandrin. Cardiac glycoside of the poisonous plant Nerium oleander and cousin of digoxin, Bond's poison in Casino Royale. As @wayneriekhof correctly points out: < 1% of hits in antiviral screens are effective drugs. Let patience and hard evidence guide us.
Happy #PhytochemicalFriday - you made it! Today: amarogentin - a characteristic component of bartenders' aromatic bitters. Isolated from gentian roots, this glycoside is one of the most bitter compounds known to human kind and is used as a standard in measuring bitterness.