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, 106 (1), 97-104

Neurotoxic Flying Foxes as Dietary Items for the Chamorro People, Marianas Islands

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Neurotoxic Flying Foxes as Dietary Items for the Chamorro People, Marianas Islands

Sandra Anne Banack et al. J Ethnopharmacol.

Abstract

Fanihi -- flying foxes (Pteropus mariannus mariannus, Pteropodidae) -- are a highly salient component of the traditional Chamorro diet. A neurotoxic, non-protein amino acid, beta-methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) accumulates in flying foxes, which forage on the seeds of Cycas micronesica (Cycadaceae) in Guam's forests. BMAA occurs throughout flying fox tissues both as a free amino acid and in a protein-bound form. It is not destroyed by cooking. Protein-bound BMAA also remains in cycad flour which has been washed and prepared by the Chamorro people as tortillas, dumplings, and thickened soups. Other animals that forage on cycad seeds may also provide BMAA inputs into the traditional Chamorro diet.

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