Rutgers New Brunswick/Piscataway Campus

Home Page of Cindy Frasier


Graduate Student in Plant Biology

Cynthia Frasier
Dept. of Plant Science and Pathology
237 Foran Hall, 59 Dudley Road
Cook College, Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8551, USA 

Phone: (732) 932-9711 x248/231,  Fax: (732) 932-9411



Strychnos, a member of Loganiaceae (Gentianales), consists of an estimated 200 species that are pantropically distributed.  These plants grow as shrubs, small trees or lianas and have characteristic leaves with three to five major veins splitting at the base.  The flowers are four to five-merous, small, sympetalous, and variously hairy.  Strychnos has been used as a component of curare, a dart poison, and to treat numerous ailments from snakebites to gastrointestinal disorders.  Some of the pharmaceutical properties of this genus are linked to alkaloids, like the well-known toxin strychnine. 

I am preparing a molecular phylogeny of Strychnos using sequences from the nuclear ribosomal DNA (internal transcribed spacer regions) and the chloroplast genome.  This phylogeny will be used to assess the monophyly of Strychnos and the tribe Strychneae, study the evolution of wood features, and to track Strychnosí biogeographic history.




(click for larger image)

See... Everyone loves Strychnos.  A Chacma baboon enjoying a green monkey orange (common name of numerous Strychnos species).  The pulp of a Strychnos fruit is edible, but beware of the seeds. The seeds can contain poisonous alkaloids.

For more great wildlife images visit .

Thesis advisor: Lena Struwe

Committee members: James French, Joachim Messing, and Timothy Motley

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