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Biology and domestication of dwarf ginseng

Project Full Title:

Exploring the biology and domestication of dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius L.), a plant with natural chemicals that improve human immune system.

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Project Description:

This interdisciplinary project will incorporate the disciplines of _Biology and Chemistry. However the project is specifically housed within the Hope College Department of Biology. Healthcare for patients has been one of the major issues in the world including the US. Minimizing the chances that a person gets sick so that s/he lives a long-lasting healthy life is arguably the best way to drive down the healthcare cost and benefit the individual and the entire society. One approach to achieving the goal lies in the beneficial impact of chemicals known as adapsins produced in some plants such as the Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius). Native Americans have used the plant to help cure various diseases, and its close relative American ginseng and Chinese ginseng have been widely used as herbal tea to strengthen human immune system. The dwarf ginseng occurs naturally and widely in the eastern and central Canada and US. In this study, we will gather plants of dwarf ginseng from various parts of its natural distribution, plant them in a common garden, quantify their production of active chemicals in roots, stems, leaves, and fruits, selectively breed the ones with high chemical production, and explore genes that are involved in the pathways that produce the effective chemicals.

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