Isolation, structure elucidation and biological evaluation of natural products from selected endemic Jamaican plants.
Research in Prof. Helen Jacobs’ group centres around the structures and chemistry of natural products. The group targets indigenous, terrestrial plants from families and genera known to produce compounds with challenging and interesting structures and biological activity. Using a taxonomic approach, the group has undertaken a semi-systematic, phytochemical survey of endemic Jamaican plants. These plants require systematic, botanical and chemical study because of their importance in biodiversity, taxonomic relationships and the potential bioactivity and intrinsic scientific interest of their chemical constituents. Of the 900 terrestrial plants endemic to Jamaica, close to 50 have been subjected to rigorous phytochemical study, resulting in the isolation and characterisation of about 180 compounds, many of which are new to science. An exploratory and investigative approach is adopted, with structure determination of compounds entailing mainly NMR methods. A minor research interest is the synthesis of prenylated phenolic compounds which occur in a number of the plants studied.
The group is specifically interested in the families Clusiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Piperaceae and Rutaceae. Against this background, the key research projects in the group at present are:
The structures and derivatization of polyprenylated acyl phloroglucinols from the Clusiaceae plants Clusia flava, Clusia portlandiana and Garcinia decussata, and the synthesis of an unexpected degradation product of the C. flava metabolite 7-epi-nemorosone.
Structures and synthesis of 2-acylcyclohexane-1,3-diones and prenylated phenolic compounds from endemic Peperomia species of Jamaica.