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Articles in Category: UNIVERSITY RESEARCH

Why you hate cilantro



Cilantro, the leaf of the Coriandrum sativum plant, is a glabrous, aromatic, herbaceous annual plant, very well known for its use in jaundice [6], a yellowish pigmentation of the skin caused by increased levels of bilirubin in the blood [7].

Cilantro is also a widely consumed herb that is globally known, used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, Latin American, African and Southeast Asian cuisine [3] has also many purported health benefits ranging from anti-bacterial, anxiolytic and hepatoprotective properties to its anti-cancer activities.

However to benefit from those properties you really need to eat it, and some really can't, some even hate cilantro and its taste. Is there any scientific reason that may justify that? It seems there is one, you have it on your genes. Image: See credits under reference [9].


Family: Apiaceae

Genus: Coriandrum

Common name: Cilantro, Coriandrum diversifolium, Coriandrum globosum, Coriandrum majus, dhania, coriander


Reading leaf veins can help predict past climate



UCLA life scientists published May 15 in the journal Nature Communications a discovery that may have important implications in what refers to past climate predictions based on leaf vein architecture.

The study, based on calculations done using mathematical rules and formulas applied to plants leaf vein architecture, seems to be able to guess the original leaf size just by studying a minor fragment of the leaf and the leaf veins architecture. 

UCLA scientists found out some basic patterns involved in the development of the leafs that are directly related to the leaf veins and proportional to the leaf size, therefore having a small sample of a leaf and following those mathematical formulas that are determined by the leaf veins patterns scientists could determine the leaf size. 

It seems that those patterns are not specific to any regions but globally common to all of them. Image: Leaf by Andrew Magill under Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 2.0).


Plants can chose between growth and self defense



Scientists and farmers wonder over the years why certain plants stop growing under difficult conditions, mainly under harsh weather conditions and when affected by plagues or plant diseases. 

The answer came from researchers at Michigan State University, who as part of an international collaboration program figured out how plants can chose between growth and self defense to help them keep safe from harm.

Sheng Yang He, an MSU professor of plant biology, and his team found that the two hormones that control:

  • growth in plants (called gibberellins) and 
  • defense (known as jasmonates)

literally come together in a crisis and figure out what to do. The study, performed on rice, a narrow-leafed plant, and Arabidopsis, a small flowering plants related to cabbage and mustard [3]. Image: See ref. [7] below.


Harvard scientists disclose the secrets of Chinese herbal remedy



There in the mountains, in the north-east of the Himalayas, grows a plant, Hydrangea, commonly known as Hortensia, that may have helped scientists and researchers from Harvard School of Dental Medicine to find the answer on how to treat autoimmune disorder, an inappropriate immune response of the body against substances and molecules naturally present in our bodies [7], but mistakenly confused by our natural defences with external pathogens, as in Lupus or psoriasis.

The researchers, lead by Malcolm Whitman, professor of developmental biology at Harvard School of Dental Medicine discovered that one of the active constituents found in the roots of Hydrangea, the halofuginone, blocked the development of Th17 cells, a type of cells present in many autoimmune disorder cases [5]. But why did their research focused on Hydrangea?


Family: Hydrangeaceae

Genus: Hydrangea

Common name: Hortensia, Chinese: 常山, Pinyin: chángshān, Ji Gu


Researchers breed new varieties of chamomile



Chamomile is one of the most commonly used medicinal herbs, very well known for its multiple health benefits and properties among which we can mention its main use as traditional herbal treatment of stomach and intestinal diseases, maybe due to some of the important active constituents that we can find in chamomile as the several types of terpenoids and flavonoids, both of them big contributors of the medicinal properties chamomile holds.

The two main types of chamomile, the German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), and the Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) are certainly the most well-known herbs from this herb family, the Asteraceae/Compositae family. 

Knowing the very high demand Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna have been working on developing new varieties of chamomile that can be cultivated as a medicinal plant, aiming to achieve chamomile varieties that will bloom longer and make its cultivation easier [4]. Image: German chamomile - קמומיל כחול by Eran Finkle under CC license (CC by 2.0). 


Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Matricaria

Common name: Chamomile