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Abstract Detail

Economic Botany Section

Virnig, Anne Lucy [1], Vandebroek, Ina [2], Pedraza, Paola [3], Perdomo, JuliŠn [4], Litt, Amy [1].

From metabolic systems to human systems: An interdisciplinary approach to studying the Neotropical blueberries (Vaccinieae, Ericaceae).

The Colombian Andes are a biodiversity hotspot for queremes, a local term that refers to a minimum of 15 species of the blueberry tribe (Vaccinieae, Ericaceae). Queremes are culturally important species across Colombia, with flowers and berries that are used for social, medicinal, and food purposes. They likewise are of considerable scientific interest as close relatives of the temperate Vaccinieae Рincluding blueberries, cranberries, and lingonberries Рknown for antioxidant-rich fruit. Antioxidant activity in the Vaccinieae is increasingly thought to be a product of synergistic interactions among metabolites, a fact with critical implications for Neotropical members, which have been shown to have activity exceeding that of the highbush blueberry. Despite use across Colombia, the most economically important quereme species are endemic to the montane forests surrounding the town of El Queremal, where locals have begun cultivation over the past five years in response to the increasing threat posed by overharvesting.   The research presented here establishes baseline data as part of a broader project focusing on the dual role of genetic and environmental factors in regulating phytochemical composition and antioxidant capacity in queremes.  In order to approach these broader questions, foundational understanding of species identified and used locally and their position within Linnaean taxonomy was necessary. Preliminary fieldwork in El Queremal identified: (a) 15 species spanning six genera identified in the local vernacular; (b) higher level ethnotaxonomic classification into macho (male) and hembra (female); (c) diverse cultural uses of queremes; and (d) tension between strong local conservation ethics and economic dependence on these species for livelihood. This project has implications for scientific understanding of genetic and environmental regulation of antioxidant activity and development of sustainable conservation initiatives that address both ecological and economic bases of overharvesting.

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1 - The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY, 10458, USA
2 - The New York Botanical Garden, Institute of Economic Botany, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY, 10458, USA
3 - The New York Botanical Garden, Institute of Systematic Botany, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY, 10458, USA
4 - Universidad del Valle, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia

phytochemical genomics
antioxidant activity

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 5
Location: River Fork/Grove
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2014
Time: 9:30 AM
Number: 5005
Abstract ID:365
Candidate for Awards:Economic Botany Section best student paper

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