Stressed for success: How the berry's wild origins result in multifaceted health protections

M. A. Lila, J. Kellogg, M. H. Grace, G. G. Yousef, T. B. Kraft, R. B. Rogers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


In the harsh, unprotected wilds, environmental or climatic stressors (elicitors) provoke the deposition of health-protective secondary phytochemicals in plants that will help them adapt and thrive. For berries endemic to the wind-battered open plains of the Dakotas, the arctic tundra of Alaska, exposed elevations in the Andean Mountains or the nutrient-starved lava flows of Pacific Islands, certain stresses can be taken to extreme limits, triggering deposition of potent phytochemical mixtures within berry fruits. The unique and sometimes dramatic phytochemical melange not only protects the host plant from insult, but also offers broad-spectrum health benefits to the animals (including humans) that consume these berries. Traditional diets in many native cultures have featured wild game, seafood, and a plethora of these wild berry species including salmonberries, mossberries, maquiberry, buffaloberry, blue huckleberries and bog blueberries. In recent years, just as native communities have shifted towards more Western diets and away from traditions, the incidence of diabetes and obesity has risen. In partnership with local Native American and Alaska Native communities, our teams have investigated the health protective (and in particular, anti-diabetic and obesity-inhibiting) properties of indigenous berries as conditioned by environmental and climatic stress in the wild growing sites. Various wild berries were examined in field bioassays, then in lab analyses, and proved capable of dose-dependent inhibition of proinflammatory cytokines associated with metabolic syndrome, and inhibition of aldose reductase, an enzyme associated with diabetic retinopathy. The complexity of the phytochemical profiles of the wild berries and potentiating interactions between anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, and other flavonoid phytochemicals contributed to the modulation of specific cellular targets related to metabolic syndrome and obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationX International Symposium on Vaccinium and Other Superfruits
PublisherInternational Society for Horticultural Science
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9789462610026
StatePublished - Jan 13 2014

Publication series

NameActa Horticulturae
ISSN (Print)0567-7572

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Horticulture


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