Traumatic acid

November 07, 2016
I heal plants, but people are another story.
What molecule am I?
Image of Traumatic acid 3D Image of Traumatic acid

Traumatic acid, formally trans-2-dodecenedioic acid, is a plant hormone that was isolated from damaged green beans by Caltech chemists James English, Jr., James Bonner, and A. J. Haagen-Smit in 1939. They describe traumatic acid and its acid–aldehyde cousin traumatin as “wound hormones” that is, substances produced by a plant to “heal” itself after it is damaged.

The same year, English et al. synthesized traumatic acid by converting undecylenic acid to the half-aldehyde of sebacic acid, which they then condensed with malonic acid in the presence of pyridine. CO2 was split off after the condensation, and the unsaturated diacid was isolated after hydrolysis of the ester group.

Traumatic acid may heal wounds in plants, but it may also be symbolic of American society’s wounds during this election season. May your trauma be kept to a minimum.

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