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Chemists strive to match plant chemistry.

Chemists strive to match plant chemistry

"The goal of current research in organic synthesis is to find ways to approach or surpass the finesse shown by nature in the assembly of complex organic molecules," write Clayton H. Heathcock and Serge Piettre of the University of California, Berkeley, in the June 6 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY. These two chemists seem to have neared that goal.

Heathcock and Piettre report synthesizing proto-daphniphylline, a 30-carbon molecule suspected as the chemical parent of a family of chemicals found in the Asian yuzuriha tree (Dathniphyllum macropodum Miquel). In a remarkably simple triad of steps involving reagents such as ammonia and vinegar, the researchers coaxed a linear precursor to form six new chemical bonds and twist into proto-daphniphylline's complex structure comprising five rings and a few carbohydrate appendages. It's so simple, they say, that yuzuriha trees probably make the compound in a similar way.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 7, 1990
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