(1/21) Tuber storage proteins.
A wide range of plants are grown for their edible tubers, but five species together account for almost 90 % of the total world production. These are potato (Solanum tuberosum), cassava (Manihot esculenta), sweet potato (Ipomoea batatus), yams (Dioscorea spp.) and taro (Colocasia, Cyrtosperma and Xanthosoma spp.). All of these, except cassava, contain groups of storage proteins, but these differ in the biological properties and evolutionary relationships. Thus, patatin from potato exhibits activity as an acylhydrolase and esterase, sporamin from sweet potato is an inhibitor of trypsin, and dioscorin from yam is a carbonic anhydrase. Both sporamin and dioscorin also exhibit antioxidant and radical scavenging activity. Taro differs from the other three crops in that it contains two major types of storage protein: a trypsin inhibitor related to sporamin and a mannose-binding lectin. These characteristics indicate that tuber storage proteins have evolved independently in different species, which contrasts with the highly conserved families of storage proteins present in seeds. Furthermore, all exhibit biological activities which could contribute to resistance to pests, pathogens or abiotic stresses, indicating that they may have dual roles in the tubers. (+info)
(2/21) Origins of agriculture at Kuk Swamp in the highlands of New Guinea.
Multidisciplinary investigations at Kuk Swamp in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea show that agriculture arose independently in New Guinea by at least 6950 to 6440 calibrated years before the present (cal yr B.P.). Plant exploitation and some cultivation occurred on the wetland margin at 10,220 to 9910 cal yr B.P. (phase 1), mounding cultivation began by 6950 to 6440 cal yr B.P. (phase 2), and ditched cultivation began by 4350 to 3980 cal yr B.P. (phase 3). Clearance of lower montane rainforests began in the early Holocene, with modification to grassland at 6950 to 6440 cal yr B.P. Taro (Colocasia esculenta) was utilized in the early Holocene, and bananas (Musa spp.) were intensively cultivated by at least 6950 to 6440 cal yr B.P. (+info)
(3/21) The medicinal uses of poi.
Poi is a pasty starch made from the cooked, mashed corm of the taro plant (Colocasia esculenta L.). Originating in Asia, this root crop is now found primarily in tropical and subtropical regions and was a major dietary staple in the Pacific islands. We hypothesize that poi has potential use as a probiotic-defined by FAO/WHO as, "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host." No scientific studies have explored the possibility of poi being used as a probiotic in medical nutrition therapy, however, an investigator determined that the predominant bacteria in poi are Lactococcus lactis (95%) and Lactobacilli (5%), both of which are lactic acid-producing bacteria. This investigator also reported that poi contains significantly more of these bacteria per gram than yogurt. To determine if poi is beneficial for certain health conditions, a literature search was conducted to find all available research studies in which poi was used as a complementary treatment. Documented evidence suggests that poi shows promise for use in infants with allergies or failure-to-thrive. However, to support previous findings, more research needs to be conducted with poi and its potential use as a probiotic. (+info)
(4/21) Taro vein chlorosis virus: characterization and variability of a new nucleorhabdovirus.
Sequencing of the monopartite RNA genome of a Fijian isolate of Taro vein chlorosis virus (TaVCV) confirmed that it is a definitive rhabdovirus with most similarity to members of the genus Nucleorhabdovirus. The TaVCV 12 020 nt negative-sense RNA genome contained six ORFs in the antigenomic sequence, equivalent to the N, P, 3, M, G and L genes that have been identified in other rhabdoviruses. The putative gene products had highest similarity to those of the nucleorhabdovirus Maize mosaic virus. A characteristic 3'-AAUUCUUUUUGGGUUGU/A-5' sequence was identified in each of the intergenic regions and the TaVCV leader and trailer sequences comprised 140 and 61 nt, respectively. Assignment of TaVCV to the genus Nucleorhabdovirus was supported by thin-section electron microscopy of TaVCV-infected taro leaves, which identified virions budding from nuclear membranes into the perinuclear space. Variability studies identified high levels of TaVCV sequence diversity. Within the L gene of 20 TaVCV isolates from Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, maximum variability at the nucleotide level was 27.4 %. Within the N gene, maximum variability among 15 isolates at the nucleotide level was 19.3 %. The high level of TaVCV variability observed suggested that the introduction of TaVCV to the Pacific Islands was not a recent occurrence. (+info)
(5/21) Inhibition of human lanosterol synthase by the constituents of Colocasia esculenta (taro).
Ethanol extracts of lyophilized vegetables were tested for inhibition of human lanosterol synthase (hOSC) in order to find the compounds to suppress cholesterol biosynthesis. Of 130 samples tested, twelve samples showed significant inhibition. Among them, Colocasia esculenta (taro) showed the highest inhibition (55% inhibition at 300 microg/ml). Examination of activity variation among eight taro cultivars indicated that "Aichi-wase" and "Yatsugashira" had the most potent activity for hOSC inhibition. In order to identify the active constituent of taro, ethanol extracts of "Aichi-wase" were partitioned with hexane and aqueous methanol, and fractionated by silica gel column chromatography. Inhibitory activity was concentrated in two major active fractions. Further purification of these fractions by preparative HPLC gave three monogalactosyldiacylglycerols and five digalactosyldiacylglycerols as active compounds that showed 28 to 67% inhibitory activities at the concentration 300 microg/ml. (+info)
(6/21) A non-dairy probiotic's (poi) influence on changing the gastrointestinal tract's microflora environment.
JUSTIFICATION: Yogurt has been historically used to restore gut microflora adversely affected by antibiotic treatment. Certain fermented dairy products are probiotics; "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host." Microorganisms in foods may benefit certain health conditions such as diarrhea, gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer. A potential new probiotic from a Polynesian traditional food is poi; a starchy paste made from the corm of taro plants. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine if consumption of poi, a potential non-dairy probiotic, altered the microflora in the gastrointestinal tract of healthy adults. METHODS: A cross-over clinical study included 18 subjects (19-64 years of age) divided into a poi group (n = 10) and control group (n = 8). The study duration of 14 weeks consisted of a 2-week washout, 4-week treatment or control, a subsequent 2-week washout, cross-over of 4-week treatment or control, and a final 2-week washout. Subjects thus served as their own controls. While receiving the poi treatment, participants consumed fresh poi (1-2 days old) three times a day (130 g/meal or approximately 1/2 cup/meal); the control group did not. Both groups filled out 3-day dietary records to ensure compliance. Measurable outcomes included pre- and post-treatment microbiological fecal culture analyses. RESULTS: We found no significant differences in total bacterial counts following a poi diet versus following a control diet, nor were significant differences found in counts of specific bacterial species. Lactococcus tends to be higher in poi when it is analyzed for specific bacteria, but the poi consumption in our study did not alter the mean concentration of individual bacterial species (log10 CFU/g wet feces) for Escherichia coli, Enterobacter, Klebsiella, Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, and Bifidobacterium. No significant differences in stool frequency or consistency were observed between the treatment and control group periods. CONCLUSION: Poi consumption did not significantly alter total or individual bacterial counts in the human gastrointestinal tract. Further research might determine if "sour poi" (3-4 days old) has a greater affect than "fresh poi" (1-2 days old) as a potential probiotic, and a larger trial with longer diet durations may detect more subtle effects of poi consumption on bacterial counts. (+info)
(7/21) Occurrence of isolates of Phytophthora colocasiae in Taiwan with homothallic behavior and its significance.
Leaf blight and corm rot caused by Phytophthora colocasiae are the most devastating diseases of taro. Oospores of P. colocasiae have not been considered important in the survival in natural soil because the pathogen is heterothallic and there is essentially no chance for the presence of both A1 and A2 mating types in the same host tissue. During our recent survey of the mating type distribution of P. colocasiae in Taiwan seven homothallic isolates of Phytophthora were obtained from diseased taro leaves at Tsu Chi in central Taiwan. These organisms were identified as P. colocasiae based on morphological characteristics, ITS sequence homology and pathogenicity to taro plants. The homothallic isolates of P. colocasiae segregated into A1 and A2 types in addition to the original A1A2 type during asexual reproduction and vegetative growth. The homothallic isolate and the mixture of its A1 and A2 segregants produced abundant oospores in live tissue of taro petioles on or away from soil, indicating the possibility of oospores as a survival structure and the source of genetic variation in certain areas in nature. (+info)
(8/21) Purification and characterization of elicitor protein from Phytophthora colocasiae and basic resistance in Colocasia esculenta.