Characterization of a defensin gene expressed in oil palm inflorescences: induction during tissue culture and possible association with epigenetic somaclonal variation events.
From differential display studies performed on oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) tissue cultures bearing or lacking an epigenetic homeotic flowering abnormality, known as mantled, EGAD1, a gene coding for a putative plant defensin, has been identified and characterized. In whole plants, transcripts of the EGAD1 gene were detected only in inflorescences. The closest characterized relative of the oil palm EGAD1 gene is the Petunia PPT gene, which is expressed principally in the pistil of the flower. The 77 amino acid polypeptide encoded by the EGAD1 gene displays strong similarities with a number of plant defensin proteins, which are thought to play a protective role and which have been shown in some cases to possess antifungal properties. Oil palm tissue cultures exhibit a generally strong induction of accumulation of EGAD1 transcripts, which were detected to differing extents at all stages of the tissue culture regeneration process. The 5' flanking region of the EGAD1 gene was found to contain two different types of potential cis-acting DNA element previously identified in the promoters of plant defence-related genes, which may explain the observed expression in tissue cultures. At the callus stage of the in vitro regeneration procedure, a differential accumulation of EGAD1 transcripts was observed which correlated with the presence or absence of the mantled flowering abnormality. EGAD1 gene expression may therefore be a marker of epigenetic somaclonal variation events. (+info)
Thermal stability of peroxidase from the african oil palm tree Elaeis guineensis.
The thermal stability of peroxidase from leaves of the African oil palm tree Elaeis guineensis (AOPTP) at pH 3.0 was studied by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), intrinsic fluorescence, CD and enzymatic assays. The spectral parameters as monitored by ellipticity changes in the far-UV CD spectrum of the enzyme as well as the increase in tryptophan intensity emission upon heating, together with changes in enzymatic activity with temperature were seen to be good complements to the highly sensitive but integral method of DSC. The data obtained in this investigation show that thermal denaturation of palm peroxidase is an irreversible process, under kinetic control, that can be satisfactorily described by the two-state kinetic scheme, N -->(k) D, where k is a first-order kinetic constant that changes with temperature, as given by the Arrhenius equation; N is the native state, and D is the denatured state. On the basis of this model, the parameters of the Arrhenius equation were calculated. (+info)
Purification and characterization of 31-kDa palm pollen glycoprotein (Ela g Bd 31 K), which is recognized by IgE from palm pollinosis patients.
A basic glycoprotein, which was recognized by IgE from oil palm pollinosis patients, has been purified from oil palm pollen (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.), which is a strong allergen and causes severe pollinosis in Malaysia and Singapore. Soluble proteins were extracted from defatted palm pollen with both Tris-HCl buffer (pH 7.8) and Na-acetate buffer (pH 4.0). The allergenic glycoprotein was purified from the total extract to homogeneity with 0.4% yield by a combination of DEAE- and CM-cellulose, SP-HPLC, and gel filtration. The purified oil palm pollen glycoprotein with molecular mass of 31 kDa was recognized by the beta1-2 xylose specific antibody, suggesting this basic glycoprotein bears plant complex type N-glycan(s). The palm pollen basic glycoprotein, designated Ela g Bd 31 K, was recognized by IgE of palm pollinosis patients, suggesting Ela g Bd 31 K should be one of the palm pollen allergens. The preliminary structural analysis of N-glycans linked to glycoproteins of palm pollens showed that the antigenic N-glycans having alpha1-3 fucose and alpha1-2 xylose residues (GlcNAc(2 to approximately 0)Man3Xyl1Fuc(1 to approximately 0)GlcNAc2) actually occur on the palm pollen glycoproteins, in addition to the high-mannose type structures (Man(9 to approximately 5)GlcNAc2). (+info)
Polyphenol-enriched extract of oil palm fronds (Elaeis guineensis) promotes vascular relaxation via endothelium-dependent mechanisms.
Plant-based polyphenolic compounds have been reported to possess cardiovascular health benefits. Several dietary sources, including herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables, and tea and wine, contain an array of biologically active compounds that have been shown to be effective in retarding oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and promoting vascular relaxation. In the present study four different plant sources, both edible and non-edible, were evaluated for potential activity. Organic extracts enriched in polyphenols were prepared from palm fronds (Elaesis guineensis); lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates); papaya shoots (Carica papaya) and green chilli (Capsicum frutescenes) and tested for their ability to prevent in vitro oxidation of LDL, and for potential vascular relaxation actions. Rings of rat thoracic aorta and isolated perfused mesenteric vascular beds were mounted in organ baths, contracted using a half-maximal dose of noradrenaline and exposed to cumulative additions of test extracts. Palm frond extract resulted in considerable relaxation (>75%) in both preparations and was found to be endothelium-dependent as removal of endothelium or inhibition of endogenous nitric oxide (NO) led to a total loss in relaxant activity. Lemongrass extract caused a greater relaxation action in the mesenteric preparation compared to aortic rings, and appears to be mediated via NO-independent and non-prostanoid mechanisms. Of the extracts tested, palm fronds also demonstrated the highest antioxidant capacity, as determined by the ferric reducing activity/potential assay, and resulted in a significant delay (P < 0.05) in the oxidation of LDL. Collectively, these preliminary findings lend further support to the potential cardiovascular actions of plant polyphenols and also identify oil palm fronds as containing constituents that promote vascular relaxation via endothelium-dependent mechanisms. (+info)
Palm fruit in traditional African food culture.
The centre of origin of the oil palm is the tropical rain forest region of West Africa. It is considered to be the 200-300 kilometre wide coastal belt between Liberia and Mayumbe. The oil palm tree has remained the 'tree of life' of Yoruba land as well as of other parts of southern West Africa to which it is indigenous. The Yoruba are adept at spinning philosophical and poetical proverbs around such ordinary things as hills, rivers, birds, animals and domestic tools. Hundreds of the traditional proverbs are still with us, and through them one can see the picture of the environment that contributed to the moulding of the thoughts of the people. Yoruba riddles or puzzles were also couched in terms of the environment and the solutions to them were also environmental items. They have a popular saying: A je eran je eran a kan egungun, a je egungun je egungun a tun kan eran: 'A piece of meat has an outer layer of flesh, an intermediate layer of bone and an inner layer of flesh'. What is it? A palm fruit: it has an outer edible layer, the mesocarp; then a layer of shell, inedible, and the kernel inside, edible. The solution to this puzzle summarises the botanical and cultural characteristics of the palm fruit. (+info)
Palm fruit chemistry and nutrition.
The palm fruit (Elaies guineensis) yields palm oil, a palmitic-oleic rich semi solid fat and the fat-soluble minor components, vitamin E (tocopherols, tocotrienols), carotenoids and phytosterols. A recent innovation has led to the recovery and concentration of water-soluble antioxidants from palm oil milling waste, characterized by its high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids. These natural ingredients pose both challenges and opportunities for the food and nutraceutical industries. Palm oil's rich content of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids has actually been turned into an asset in view of current dietary recommendations aimed at zero trans content in solid fats such as margarine, shortenings and frying fats. Using palm oil in combination with other oils and fats facilitates the development of a new generation of fat products that can be tailored to meet most current dietary recommendations. The wide range of natural palm oil fractions, differing in their physico-chemical characteristics, the most notable of which is the carotenoid-rich red palm oil further assists this. Palm vitamin E (30% tocopherols, 70% tocotrienols) has been extensively researched for its nutritional and health properties, including antioxidant activities, cholesterol lowering, anti-cancer effects and protection against atherosclerosis. These are attributed largely to its tocotrienol content. A relatively new output from the oil palm fruit is the water-soluble phenolic-flavonoid-rich antioxidant complex. This has potent antioxidant properties coupled with beneficial effects against skin, breast and other cancers. Enabled by its water solubility, this is currently being tested for use as nutraceuticals and in cosmetics with potential benefits against skin aging. A further challenge would be to package all these palm ingredients into a single functional food for better nutrition and health. (+info)
Phytonutrient deficiency: the place of palm fruit.
The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is native to many West African countries, where local populations have used its oil for culinary and other purposes. Large-scale plantations, established principally in tropical regions (Asia, Africa and Latin America), are mostly aimed at the production of oil, which is extracted from the fleshy mesocarp of the palm fruit, and endosperm or kernel oil. Palm oil is different from other plant and animal oils in that it contains 50% saturated fatty acids, 40% unsaturated fatty acids, and 10% polyunsaturated fatty acids. The fruit also contains components that can endow the oil with nutritional and health beneficial properties. These phytonutrients include carotenoids (alpha-,beta-,and gamma-carotenes), vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols), sterols (sitosterol, stigmasterol and campesterol), phospholipids, glycolipids and squalene. In addition, it is recently reported that certain water-soluble powerful antioxidants, phenolic acids and flavonoids, can be recovered from palm oil mill effluent. Owing to its high content of phytonutrients with antioxidant properties, the possibility exists that palm fruit offers some health advantages by reducing lipid oxidation, oxidative stress and free radical damage. Accordingly, use of palm fruit or its phytonutrient-rich fractions, particularly water-soluble antioxidants, may confer some protection against a number of disorders or diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancers, cataracts and macular degeneration, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. However, whilst prevention of disease through use of these phytonutrients as in either food ingredients or nutraceuticals may be a worthwhile objective, dose response data are required to evaluate their pharmacologic and toxicologic effects. In addition, one area of concern about use of antioxidant phytonutrients is how much suppression of oxidation may be compatible with good health, as toxic free radicals are required for defence mechanisms. These food-health concepts would probably spur the large-scale oil palm (and monoculture) plantations, which are already seen to be a major cause of deforestation and replacement of diverse ecosystems in many countries. However, the environmental advantages of palm phytonutrients are that they are prepared from the readily available raw material from palm oil milling processes. Palm fruit, one of only a few fatty fruits, is likely to have an increasingly substantiated place in human health, not only through the provision of acceptable dietary fats, but also its characteristic protective phytonutrients. (+info)
Genetic diversity and recruitment of the tropical palm, Euterpe edulis Mart., in a natural population from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.
The genetic diversity and recruitment of plants of heart-of-palm tree (Euterpe edulis Mart.) were investigated in a natural population located in Southern Brazil. Five categories of plants, from seedlings to adults, were analysed using 16 allozymic loci. The results showed an average population level of genetic diversity (He=0.278) greater than the average of plant species already studied. The recruitment process of E. edulis is related to its genetic characteristics. A significant increase in the heterozygote frequency towards the adult stages was observed at three loci (Pgdh-2, G6pdh-1 and Mdh-1). This suggests the possible action of natural selection in promoting such heterozygote increase. In the same way, a linear increase in allele frequencies was observed at four loci (Prx-3, Prx-4, Pgdh-2 and G6pdh-1), indicating that recruitment is also related to a greater survival of individuals that are carriers of certain alleles. The maintenance of high diversity levels, as well as the increase in the heterozygote frequency, are positive aspects for in situ conservation. Furthermore, an increase in heterozygote frequency is favourable to the management of the species, since the maintenance of a stock of reproductive individuals with high heterozygosity levels favours the maintenance of the population dynamic and structure. (+info)