The New York Botanical Garden International Plant Science Center
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The study of plant chemistry

Phytochemistry Laboratories

The main goal of the Gardenís phytochemical efforts is to find, isolate, and identify novel plant compounds with medicinal value. The New York Botanical Garden personnel collect, identify, and extract plant samples, producing extracts for chemical analysis. These phytochemical vouchers enable the Garden to do chemo-systematic studies providing insight on new sources of beneficial plant compounds using a phylogenetic or evolutionary approach.

The results of chemosystematic investigations can shed light on biosynthetic pathways of intriguing secondary plant metabolites. To illustrate, current studies include the investigation of a non-protein amino acid, BMAA, produced by all cycads. This compound is implicated with neural receptor interference and Parkinson-Dementia Complex in humans. The Cycad Genomics Project of the Plant Genomics Consortium is currently probing the biology of the BMAA compound with the hope that it will provide clues for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.


The Plant Research Laboratory has the drying and storage facilities for plant collections, freezers with extract and bulk sample library for chemotaxonomic studies, and plant grinding units. The phytochemical laboratories are capable of generating plant extracts from fresh or dried plant material and possess analytical methodologies including column chromatography, TLC plating, and HPLC.

Associated Researchers

Dennis Stevenson

Related Web Sites

The Cycad Pages

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