January 18, 2021
In that magical period between winter and spring in the northeast US and Canada, tapped sugar maples yield buckets of clear sap. Once concentrated, the resulting sticky syrup is used as a natural sweetener for everything from breakfast treats to specialty cocktails. While sucrose does make up the majority of maple syrup, there are many other secondary metabolites present that give maple its unique flavor and contribute to its pharmacological potential. I speak with Dr. Navindra Seeram, an expert in the chemistry and pharmacology of maple trees. He explains maple chemistry and shares some fascinating projects underway in the development of nutraceutical and cosmeceutical products developed from maple.
#MapleSyrup #Maple #Pharmacognosy
January 11, 2021
Dead plants do tell tales. Over the past five hundred years, plant hunters have scoured the Earth, collecting millions of specimens that are now held in vast collections in New York, London and Paris, complemented by smaller collections found in museums and universities across the globe. These plants were sought out not just for their beauty and diversity, but also for their potential applications in new foods, medicines, and more. I speak with Dr. Barbara Thiers, Director of the Steere Herbarium at New York Botanical Gardens and author of a new book entitled, “Herbarium: The Quest to Preserve and Classify the World’s Plants.” We discuss the fascinating history of herbaria and recount the adventurous stories of some of the famous explorers that built these collections.
#Herbaria #NaturalHistory #Expedition
December 14, 2020
A vast network of fungi circles the globe—interwoven throughout the soil, coating surfaces above ground and even living inside of plants! There is an astonishing level of diversity among fungi, and this biodiversity is coupled with incredible chemical diversity. In this episode of Foodie Pharmacognosy, our guest is Dr. Nick Oberlies, an expert in the field of pharmacognosy who specializes in the study of fungal chemistry! He explains how he and his team find fungi growing inside plants and throughout the environment in the hunt for new molecules to treat cancer, infections, and more.
#Fungi #Pharmacognosy #NMR
November 30, 2020
Plants produce a fantastic array of metabolites to defend themselves, communicate with other organisms in their environment, and attract pollinators and seed dispersers; sometimes, these metabolites can also impact human health. Our guest this week is Dr. Nadja Cech, an expert in the field of mass spectrometry and natural products. She explains how she uses this exciting tool of science to study the medical potential of herbs like kratom, goldenseal, and more. We also discuss the importance of mentorship and support of diversity and inclusion in science.
#MassSpectrometry #Pharmacognosy #WomenInSTEM #Kratom
November 16, 2020
This week, we take a closer look at the plants and agricultural traditions of Oman, situated on the Arabian Peninsula. Our guest is Dr. Darach Lupton—an ethnobotanist who manages the collection and documentation of plants and seeds from across Oman in his role at the Oman Botanic Garden! He gives us a sneak peek behind the scenes of this incredible garden, which uniquely showcases native plants of the region in a variety of specialized habitats and biomes.
#Oman #Garden #MiddleEast
November 9, 2020
This week on the show, we’re going to dive into a really cool program dedicated to biocultural education and research in the Caribbean! Our guest is Dr. Sonia Peter. She is the Director of the Biocultural Education and Research program in Barbados and the founding director of Heritage Teas Barbados. We discuss ongoing initiatives dedicated to recapturing the biocultural heritage of the island and also sharing connections to traditional knowledge through a special line of heritage teas.
#Barbados #Biodiversity #Ethnobotany
November 2, 2020
“Gene bank” may sound like something out of a Sci-fi movie – but they are actually really important in the real world! Gene banks are a type of biological repository where genetic material is stored. When it comes to crops, gene banks hold the future of food, and include seeds, plant cuttings and more. Join Dr. Quave this week as she chats with Dr. Ren Wang, the Director General of the China National GeneBank, based in Shenzhen, China.
#GeneBank #China #Crops
October 26, 2020
I speak with Dr. Tinde van Andel, an ethnobotanist that studies the traditional uses of crops and medicinal plants from Africa to South America. She shares the incredible story of how enslaved African women hid special rice varieties and other crop seeds in their hair braids in their escape from plantations to the forest, where thriving Maroon communities were established and persist today in Suriname. Prof. van Andel explains how her team and collaborators used interdisciplinary tools from the examination of historic records, herbarium samples, ethnobotanical interviews and genomics approaches to unravel this fascinating history of this important African crop.
#Rice #Africa #Suriname
October 19, 2020
I speak with Dr. Robbie Hart, Director of the William L. Brown Center at Missouri Botanical Garden. Robbie is an ethnobotanist and explorer with expertise in agrobiodiversity of the Himalayas, where he studies high-elevation plant ecology, climate change, and ethnobotany. He shares some insights into his work on these topics and also explains how to make a delicious cup of yak butter tea, a local staple in the Himalayas!
#Himalayas #Yak #Ethnobotany
October 12, 2020
I speak with Dr. Bruce German, a leading expert on the science of breastmilk. You may have heard of the saying, “Breast is best” when discussing the topic of infant nutrition. But, you may be wondering, is that really true? And what are the nutritional needs of babies that enables them to grow and develop in that critical early period of life? Incredibly, there are certain components in breast milk that specifically feed the gut microbiome and promote health early in life. Tune in to learn more about the exciting scientific breakthroughs emerging in this field!
#Breastmilk #Nutrition #Microbiome