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Posted: 2/4/2013 | Print Friendly Version

MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN RESEARCHERS DISOVER HIGH LEVELS OF OMEGA FATTY ACIDS IN Plukenetia huayllabambana

(ST. LOUIS): Researchers at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s William L. Brown Center have discovered extraordinarily high levels of omega fatty acids in a species which they encountered in Northern Peru. Omega fatty acids are essential for human health and must be obtained through food sources. Omega-3 fatty acids are also widely used in cosmetics.

Rainer Bussmann and Ashley Glenn along with Peruvian colleague Caroline Tellez first described Plukenetia huayllabambana in 2009 after collecting it in the Mendoza forest region of the Peruvian Amazon. However, the high levels of omega fatty acids were only discovered in recent weeks.

Plukenetia huayllabambana Fruits and Flowers

Plukentia species are known as “Sacha Inchi” or forest peanuts and the seeds of the Plukenetia huayllabambana contain omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids in large quantities. Plukenetia huayllabambana is also rich in proteins and vitamin E and the seeds have a 96 percent digestibility factor. The plant has high potential as a food source, not only for the local population, but also on a global scale if sustainable harvest methods can be developed. Given the potential for both consumption and cosmetic uses, it also provides economic potential for the area and is an alternative to illegal crops.

“This species illustrates the importance of taxonomy,” said Bussmann. “Science takes time and previously unknown species often have great potential once they are fully studied.”

The William L. Brown Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden is dedicated to the study of useful plants and the relationships between humans, plants and the environment. Scientists strive to conserve plant species for the benefit of future generations. WLBC scientists work in 12 countries across four continents.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the three largest plant science programs in the world.

The Missouri Botanical Garden focuses its work on areas that are rich in biodiversity yet threatened by habitat destruction, and operates the world’s most active research and training programs in tropical botany. Garden scientists collaborate with local institutions, schools and indigenous peoples to understand plants, create awareness, offer alternatives and craft conservation strategies. The Missouri Botanical Garden is striving for a world that can sustain us without sacrificing prosperity for future generations, a world where people share a commitment to managing biological diversity for the common benefit. Learn more at www.mobot.org .

 

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NOTE: Digital images available by request or via Flickr. Download media materials at www.mobot.org/media

 

The Missouri Botanical Garden’s mission is “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life.” Today, 154 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display.

 

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in St. Louis, just south of I-44 at Vandeventer-Kingshighway (exit #287B). Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Closed Christmas Day. Grounds open at 7 a.m. most Wednesdays and Saturdays (exception: special admission rate events). Admission is $8; free children ages 12 and under and Garden members. St. Louis City and County residents are $4 and free most Wednesdays and Saturdays until noon (exception: special admission rate events – third weekend of May, Memorial Day 2012, Labor Day weekend and first weekend of October). Park for free on site and two blocks west at the Shaw-Vandeventer intersection. The Garden is accessible via public transportation by taking the MetroLink commuter rail line and picking up a Metro bus (www.metrostlouis.org). For general information, log on to www.mobot.org or call the 24-hour recording at (314) 577-5100 or 1-800-642-8842. For membership information, visit www.mobot.org/membership call (314) 577-5118 during weekday business hours. For volunteer opportunities, visit www.mobot.org/volunteer or call (314) 577-5187. The Missouri Botanical Garden is a tobacco-free environment.