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Chemistry in the Amazon: Tropical birds, Amazonian tribespeople derive medicinal benefits from insects, plants

Eloy Rodriguez, professor of environmental studies at Cornell University, will speak at the 221st national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, on natural organic chemicals found in the Amazon. The meeting will be held April 1-5 in San Diego, Calif.

Rodriguez' remarks, part of the ACS eminent scientist lecture series, will highlight the interconnection between the conservation of biodiversity and the preservation of human and animal health.

Rodriguez will discuss the evolution of natural organic chemicals from Amazonian plants to caterpillars, ants and other insects, and ultimately to tropical birds. He will explain how the preen glands of birds produce chemicals, which originate in tropical plants, to inhibit fungi and bacteria and repel biting and stinging insects, the worst enemy of sleeping birds. Butterflies and moth caterpillars are known to sequester their defense from toxic plants; Rodriguez' research shows that vertebrates, including birds and poisonous frogs, also acquire their defense through their diet.

Rodriguez will also discuss the chemistry of a wide range of medicinal plants used by Amazonian tribespeople, including findings that some tropical plants may fight breast cancer cells. He will also highlight the chemistry of a mixture of ants, termites and chili peppers that tribespeople use as a "spicy Viagra."

WHO: Eloy Rodriguez, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

WHAT:Eminent Scientist Lecture
Organic Chemical Cascades: How Amazon Birds Get Their Medicines From Giant Ants

WHEN:Monday, April 2, 4:30 p.m.

WHERE:Hyatt Regency Hotel, Manchester A-B


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Contact: Charmayne Marsh
202-872-4445
American Chemical Society
25-Mar-2001


Page: 1

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