Chemical Ecology of Woods and latex in French Guiana


Labex Ceba Projet stratégique 2017-2019


David Touboul (CNRS-UPR ICSN)
Pour EcoFoG: Christophe Duplais

Scientific Partnership

  • UMR LCPO , Université de Bordeaux, France
  • UMR ECOFOG, Kourou, French Guiana
  • UMR COMETE, Université de Paris V, France
  • UMR CEISAM, Université de Nantes, France
  • Florida International University

Presentation of the project

Although the functioning of tropical ecosystems is difficult to understand through chemistry alone, this point of view is potentially extremely instructive. The large molecular diversity in the rainforests adds to the difficulty of systemically identifying all molecules in a single organism or in one ecosystem. In this context chemical ecology, resulting from the sharing of tools in ecology and in chemistry, has revealed the importance of such an interdisciplinary approach to explore the natural chemodiversity. However, a better understanding of forests ecology requires new analytical tools in chemistry to speed up the identification of the metabolome of living organisms. This represents a great challenge as the number of chemists focusing on ecology is relatively small, compared to other areas (organic chemistry, materials chemistry, physical chemistry), which hinders the development of novel research topics at the frontier between chemistry and tropical ecology.
The CHEWING project aims to study plants defense with a specific focus on heartwood formation and latex. Our approach aims to fully investigate the chemistry behind these two models to reveal new aspects in chemical ecology by combining different techniques including green CO2 supercritical fluid extraction and separation, mass spectrometry (MS), MS imaging, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). Our approach will allow (i) performing systematic metabolomics studies, (ii) establishing molecular networks, (ii) studying biosynthetic pathways, (iv) developing quantitative methods, and (v) evaluating metabolites spatial distribution. The main objective is to investigate the relevance of a multimodal approach, in order to improve the chemical characterization and to generate valuable data that could be integrated into statistical models in ecology. Finally one direct applied application of the CHEWING project is to improve methods in agroforestry to predict wood technological properties, including dimensional stability, mechanical properties, and natural durability.

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