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Secondary metabolites and ontogeny of Piper species

Grant number: 16/00778-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate (Direct)
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2016
Effective date (End): March 31, 2021
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Organic Chemistry
Cooperation agreement: NSF - Dimensions of Biodiversity and BIOTA
Principal researcher:Massuo Jorge Kato
Grantee:Andrés Camilo Guerrero Perilla
Home Institution: Instituto de Química (IQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:14/50316-7 - Dimensions US-Biota São Paulo: Chemically mediated multi-trophic interaction diversity across tropical gradients, AP.BTA.TEM


Piperaceae is a family of different tropical and sub-tropical plants (herbs, shrubs, small trees and hanging vines) of high economic importance, is also used in Folk Medicine and an ornamental. More than 2000 Piper species have been identified worldwide; this family is also known for its bioactivity and it has been hypothesized that mixtures of secondary metabolites have evolved because each compound may act by different mechanism to defend plants against specific herbivores, yet it is also possible that such mixtures result in synergistic effects against a variety of herbivores. A study of a large number of Piper species will be conducted with the aim to determine a general pattern of chemical composition throughout the developmental process. The focal study sites for this project were chosen based on several criteria: a) sufficient preliminary data; b) adequate infrastructure at the proposed research sites and c) presence of a wide range of latitude, elevation and climatic variables. These sites range from Northern to Southern Brazil and Northern Argentina, and incorporate significant elevational changes. All samples shall be analyzed by HPLC-DAD and high field 1H-NMR (500-800 MHz) as well as by chemometrics (Principal Components Analysis) to obtain information about possible changes in chemical composition. Seedlings will be obtained from germination of seeds and/or from clonal propagation from cultivated species at the garden of Institute of Chemistry (~50 species of Piper). The main classes of secondary metabolites will be identified and tested under lab and field conditions against several natural herbivores and pests insect in an effort to characterize the overall effect in terms of defense strategy. (AU)