Lemon juice and human norovirus

Brisbane is equidistant from the equator as Sarasota, Florida, and we have fabulous citrus.

lemon.lime.bittersLemon-lime-and-bitters has become my go-to drink, along with the bubbly water provided by our soda stream.

But will lemon juice reduce my risk of contracting Norovirus?


Researchers at the German Cancer Research Center say that lemon juice could be a potentially safe and practical disinfectant against Norovirus.

I wouldn’t rely on it.

Human noroviruses does not grow in cell culture, so they tested the effects of increasing concentrations of citric buffer on the so called norovirus virus-like particles, which have the same surface characteristics as real viruses. Dr Grant Hansman, head of CHS junior research group at the German Cancer Research Center noroviruses and the University of Heidelberg and his staff show that the virus particles change their shape after citrate binding. X-ray crystal structures revealed that the citrate – from lemon juice or citrate disinfectants – precisely interacts at the binding pocket on the particle that is involved in attaching to host ligands – the so-called histo-blood group antigens.

These new results may explain why citrate reduces the infectivity of noroviruses. “Maybe a few drops of lemon juice on contaminated food or surfaces may prevent the transmission of these viruses,” speculates Hansman. With his staff, he now plans to investigate if citric acid could reduce symptoms in those already infected with noroviruses.

That’s a lot of maybes.

Anna D. Koromyslova, Peter White, and Grant S. Hansman: Citrate alters norovirus particle morphology. Virology 2015, DOI: 10.1016/j.virol.2015.07.009

My Brisbane bromance – with citrus

This is me and my new brofriend, Gary, and a disgruntled Amy at a Rush concert (not exactly as show, below). I don’t even like Toronto-based Rush, even though they played at my Brantford, Ontario high school when I was in grade 9 or something. They probably were experimenting with 2112 at the time.

No, what saddens me is when Dr. Pepper screws up limes. I didn’t really get the whole limey thing before, but after being to the U.K. and living in Brisbane, I get it. Those scurvy-infected sailors had no citrus (eat local in Scotland).

So Gary took me plant shopping at the market last Sunday and, even though he’s a kiwi, he taught me a new Aussie term: SNAG – sensitive new age guy. This is what you buy for a townhouse with no ground but lots of balconies, at the market in spring — lemon tree, tahitian lime tree, lemon basil, rosemary, youngberry, blackberry mulberry, and strawberry.