Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type

Chapman access only poster or presentation

Publication Date

Spring 5-2020

Faculty Advisor(s)

Hagop Atamian, Matthew Gartner, Peter Chang


Plants synthesize very diverse types of secondary metabolites throughout their life cycle. These secondary metabolites have specialized functions such as repelling pests and herbivores, attracting pollinators, and playing roles in different ecological functions. Altogether, secondary metabolites help the plant adapt to its specific environment and increase its chances of survival. Ancient records show that humans have been using plant secondary metabolites (commonly known as medicinal plant products) for treatment of diseases and illnesses. Nowadays, there is great interest in identifying functionally diverse secondary plant metabolites since they could aid in drug discovery. In addition, plant secondary metabolites are routinely used in food flavors, fragrances, insecticides, and dyes. The mint plant family (family: Lamiaceae) includes important plants such as basil, mentha, rosemary, sage, savory, oregano, thyme, lavender, and perilla. These plants possess a wide diversity of secondary metabolites which give them their distinctive smells and flavors. The objective of this project is to identify and quantify the secondary metabolites of an understudied plant species within the mint family called pignut (Hyptis suaveolens). The pignut is native to Mexico and South America and has been used in ancient times to treat diseases. The secondary metabolites were extracted from leaves of different wild pignut plants grown in our greenhouse using steam distillation method. The analysis of the extract was performed on a Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) instrument to identify the different compounds and analyze their concentrations. Our analysis showed variation in the quantities of some metabolites among the different wild plants. It would be interesting to further investigate the roles of those metabolites in plant adaptation as well their potential in medicine. The results generated in this project will provide valuable resources to future research aimed at utilizing the diversity of the pignut secondary metabolites for human well-being.


Presented at the Spring 2020 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.

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