Roselle (also known as Bissap) has been studied in our lab for its phytochemical, specialty crop and nutritional properties. Previously we have characterized the composition of the calyx which is used in drinks, wine, beverages, jams, jellies, coloring, and flavoring ingredients in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Recently we partnered with Southern University to develop this crop as small farm and niche market crop and serve as justifications to continue research to validate research findings and to develop new uses to further enhance commercialization potential of this crop for small farms. It is produced commercially in China, India, Sudan, Uganda, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and now the United States in Florida, California, Louisiana, and Kentucky. We have demonstrated the ability of roselle to empower women farmers in Senegal and have worked with them to improve the post-harvest technologies. Currently we are working on the nutrition of the leaves which are consumed in Sub-Saharan Africa where this crop is grown by small farmers.
2015-2020. USAID/Hort. Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research. Income and Nutrition of Smallholder Farmers in Eastern Africa Using African Indigenous Vegetables. The major goals of this project is to study the impact of how nutrient-rich African Indigenous Vegetables can impact dietary diversity and human nutrition in rural households in Kenya and Zambia. Rutgers conducts the analytical chemistry for nutrient composition and phytochemistry and characterization of anti-nutritive factors. Project includes a consortium of US and Africa-based universities and other partners. Wu serves as a collaborating investigator, leading the phytochemistry and nutritional plant composition.
2012-2015. USDA/NIFA. Alternative Utilization of Roselle Hibiscus as Small Farm and Niche Market Crop. Our role at Rutgers was in the phytochemical profiling, search for new bioactives and natural products and value added product development.
Zhen, J., Villani, T. S., Guo, Y., Qi, Y., Chin, K., Pan, M. H., … & Wu, Q. (2016). Phytochemistry, antioxidant capacity, total phenolic content and anti-inflammatory activity of Hibiscus sabdariffa leaves. Food chemistry, 190, 673-680.
Villani, T., Juliani, H. R., Simon, J. E., Wu, Q. (2013). Hibiscus sabdariffa: Phytochemistry, Quality Control, and Health Properties. African Natural Plant Products Volume II: Discoveries and Challenges in Chemistry, Health, and Nutrition. ACS Symposium Series, January 1, 2013 , 209-230 DOI:10.1021/bk-2013-1127.ch014
Juliani, H. R., Welch, C. R., Wu, Q., Diouf, B., Malainy, D., & Simon, J. E. (2009). Chemistry and Quality of Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) for Developing the Natural‐Product Industry in Senegal. Journal of Food Science, 74(2), S113-S121.