Nepata cataria is the plant that makes cats mad because when they approach them, most domestic cats have a strange behavior as if they were consuming a hallucinogen. In half they enter a state of ecstasy, coupled with a loss of consciousness.
People who have greater knowledge of these animals have explained these reactions to so-called technical plants such as Nepal, whose scientific name is Nepata cataria (Cat's Mint), precisely because it is a herb that causes some reactions among cats.
A study by the John Innes Center in the United Kingdom reveals this these plants produce chemicals that cause behavioral overcontrol of most cats, due to unknown common causes, there are approximately 20% of the cats that are immunized in this way.
The results of this study are published in the journal Nature Chemistry Biologywhere this is described the substance causing the ecstasy of these cats is called neptalactone, which is an organic compound of the group of terpenes discovered a century ago but for which there are still unknowns.
The study, presented in this edition of the journal, in addition to providing details of the behavior of cats, in order to facilitate the understanding of the rare behavior of these four legs.
This plant It can help synthesize chemical products for the benefit of human health such as vinblastine, a compound that is used in chemotherapy, according to the information note issued by John Innes Center.
The variety of this plant teaches, Nepeta mussinii forms one of the terpenes (a hydrocarbon of five carbon atoms) in a two-step process, the enzyme first activates the precursor compound, which is then taken up by a second enzyme to give the desired substance.
Although they already knew the reactions they cause in cats, these steps have not been addressed in previous studies, due to lack of information in the process.
Researchers are waiting for them The synthesis is similar to that which occurs with the active ingredients such as vincristine and vinblastine, which are used in the treatment of cancer, found in a plant known as Madagascar winegrow (Catharanthus roseus).
The authors describe, in the new study, the process by which This variety of peppermint produces non-epalactone in the microscopic glands at the bottom of its leaves.
But this study identifies three enzymes with activity that has so far remained unknown.
"They have made significant progress in understanding how non-peptidine is produced", said Benjamin Lichman, co-author of the study and professor at the University of York The avant-garde,
In turn, Professor Sarah O'Connor, Project Manager at John Innes Center, He pointed out that these plants can also be used as natural insecticides, because "non-pectolactones have a potential benefit in agriculture because they are involved in certain interactions between plants and insects."