COVID-19 Related Solutions | Hamilton is Hiring

DATE: March 2020
Widener University | Chemistry
Scott Van Bramer, PhD. | Professor

Based on prior work that identified several different acetogenins that are found as defensive compounds in butterflies, we are looking to extend this work to other species of butterflies. Since this class of compounds is found in extracts from plants found across a wide range of environments, we are looking to use LC MS/MS techniques to identify the presence of this compound class in butterfly specimens collected from the rain forests in Peru and from areas in Pennsylvania.

The acetogenins are extracted from the butterfly samples and a 500 uL gastight syringe used to inject these samples directly into the electrospray interface for the LCMS instrument. Using MS/MS techniques we hope to identify the presence of acetogenins directly from the sample extracts.

After developing the techniques for this analysis we can have undergraduate students in environmental science expand the collection of butterflies during study abroad trips to South and Central America for comparison with samples collected in Pennsylvania. We would also use the same technique to test for acetogenins in different plants that the butterflies feed on. After these samples are collected, chemistry students can perform the extraction and MS/MS analysis to test for the presence of acetogenins.