Dietary isoflavones: biological effects and relevance to human health.
Substantial evidence indicates that diets high in plant-based foods may explain the epidemiologic variance of many hormone-dependent diseases that are a major cause of mortality and morbidity in Western populations. There is now an increased awareness that plants contain many phytoprotectants. Lignans and isoflavones represent two of the main classes of phytoestrogens of current interest in clinical nutrition. Although ubiquitous in their occurrence in the plant kingdom, these bioactive nonnutrients are found in particularly high concentrations in flaxseeds and soybeans and have been found to have a wide range of hormonal and nonhormonal activities that serve to provide plausible mechanisms for the potential health benefits of diets rich in phytoestrogens. Data from animal and in vitro studies provide convincing evidence for the potential of phytoestrogens in influencing hormone-dependent states; although the clinical application of diets rich in these estrogen mimics is in its infancy, data from preliminary studies suggest beneficial effects of importance to health. This review focuses on the more recent studies pertinent to this field and includes, where appropriate, the landmark and historical literature that has led to the exponential increase in interest in phytoestrogens from a clinical nutrition perspective. (+info)
Inhibitory effect of sulfur-containing compounds in Scorodocarpus borneensis Becc. on the aggregation of rabbit platelets.
The inhibitory effects of three pure compounds isolated from wood garlic, 2,4,5-trithiahexane (I), 2,4,5,7-tetrathiaoctane (II), and 2,4,5,7-tetrathiaoctane 2,2-dioxide (III), on rabbit platelet aggregation induced by collagen, arachidonic acid, U46619, ADP (adenosine 5'-diphosphate), PAF (platelet aggregating factor), and thrombin were studied in vitro. The anti-aggregating activity of 2,4,5,7-tetrathiaoctane 4,4-dioxide (IV) was also measured with collagen and arachidonic acid. I, II, III, and IV inhibited the platelet aggregation induced by all tested agonists. I, II, and III exhibited a stronger inhibitory effect against the thrombin-induced aggregation of GFP (gel-filtered platelets) than against the aggregation induced by the other agonists. Notably, the IC50 value for III was 4 microM, which is approximately 2.5 times stronger than MATS (methyl allyl trisulfide), a major anti-platelet compound isolated from garlic. In inhibiting collagen-induced aggregation, II was as potent as MATS and aspirin, with a marked disaggregation effect on the secondary aggregation by arachidonic acid, at the rate of 47.05%/min at a concentration of 10(-4) M. I, II, and III also suppressed U46619-induced aggregation. These results suggest that sulfur-containing compounds in wood garlic not only inhibit arachidonic acid metabolism but also suppress aggregation in association with the function of the platelet plasma membrane. (+info)
Foliar modifications induced by inhibition of polar transport of auxin.
The effects of auxin polar transport inhibitors, 9-hydroxy-fluorene-9-carboxylic acid (HFCA); 2, 3, 5-triiodobenzoic acid (TIBA) and trans-cinnamic acid (CA) on leaf pattern formation were investigated with shoots formed from cultured leaf explants of tobacco and cultured pedicel explants of Orychophragmus violaceus, and the seedlings of tobacco and Brassica chinensis. Although the effective concentration varies with the inhibitors used, all of the inhibitors induced the formation of trumpet-shaped and/or fused leaves. The frequency of trumpet-shaped leaf formation was related to the concentration of inhibitors in the medium. Histological observation of tobacco seedlings showed that there was only one main vascular bundle and several minor vascular bundles in normal leaves of the control, but there were several vascular bundles of more or less the same size in the trumpet-shaped leaves of treated ones. These results indicated that auxin polar transport played an important role on bilateral symmetry of leaf growth. (+info)
Plant genetic resources: what can they contribute toward increased crop productivity?
To feed a world population growing by up to 160 people per minute, with >90% of them in developing countries, will require an astonishing increase in food production. Forecasts call for wheat to become the most important cereal in the world, with maize close behind; together, these crops will account for approximately 80% of developing countries' cereal import requirements. Access to a range of genetic diversity is critical to the success of breeding programs. The global effort to assemble, document, and utilize these resources is enormous, and the genetic diversity in the collections is critical to the world's fight against hunger. The introgression of genes that reduced plant height and increased disease and viral resistance in wheat provided the foundation for the "Green Revolution" and demonstrated the tremendous impact that genetic resources can have on production. Wheat hybrids and synthetics may provide the yield increases needed in the future. A wild relative of maize, Tripsacum, represents an untapped genetic resource for abiotic and biotic stress resistance and for apomixis, a trait that could provide developing world farmers access to hybrid technology. Ownership of genetic resources and genes must be resolved to ensure global access to these critical resources. The application of molecular and genetic engineering technologies enhances the use of genetic resources. The effective and complementary use of all of our technological tools and resources will be required for meeting the challenge posed by the world's expanding demand for food. (+info)
Ecological approaches and the development of "truly integrated" pest management.
Recent predictions of growth in human populations and food supply suggest that there will be a need to substantially increase food production in the near future. One possible approach to meeting this demand, at least in part, is the control of pests and diseases, which currently cause a 30-40% loss in available crop production. In recent years, strategies for controlling pests and diseases have tended to focus on short-term, single-technology interventions, particularly chemical pesticides. This model frequently applies even where so-called integrated pest management strategies are used because in reality, these often are dominated by single technologies (e.g., biocontrol, host plant resistance, or biopesticides) that are used as replacements for chemicals. Very little attention is given to the interaction or compatibility of the different technologies used. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that such approaches rarely yield satisfactory results and are unlikely to provide sustainable pest control solutions for the future. Drawing on two case histories, this paper demonstrates that by increasing our basic understanding of how individual pest control technologies act and interact, new opportunities for improving pest control can be revealed. This approach stresses the need to break away from the existing single-technology, pesticide-dominated paradigm and to adopt a more ecological approach built around a fundamental understanding of population biology at the local farm level and the true integration of renewable technologies such as host plant resistance and natural biological control, which are available to even the most resource-poor farmers. (+info)
Biotechnology: enhancing human nutrition in developing and developed worlds.
While the last 50 years of agriculture have focused on meeting the food, feed, and fiber needs of humans, the challenges for the next 50 years go far beyond simply addressing the needs of an ever-growing global population. In addition to producing more food, agriculture will have to deal with declining resources like water and arable land, need to enhance nutrient density of crops, and achieve these and other goals in a way that does not degrade the environment. Biotechnology and other emerging life sciences technologies offer valuable tools to help meet these multidimensional challenges. This paper explores the possibilities afforded through biotechnology in providing improved agronomic "input" traits, differentiated crops that impart more desirable "output" traits, and using plants as green factories to fortify foods with valuable nutrients naturally rather than externally during food processing. The concept of leveraging agriculture as green factories is expected to have tremendous positive implications for harnessing solar energy to meet fiber and fuel needs as well. Widespread adaptation of biotech-derived products of agriculture should lay the foundation for transformation of our society from a production-driven system to a quality and utility-enhanced system. (+info)
Hydrogen peroxide is generated systemically in plant leaves by wounding and systemin via the octadecanoid pathway.
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) generated in response to wounding can be detected at wound sites and in distal leaf veins within 1 hr after wounding. The response is systemic and maximizes at about 4-6 hr in both wounded and unwounded leaves, and then declines. The timing of the response corresponds with an increase in wound-inducible polygalacturonase (PG) mRNA and enzyme activity previously reported, suggesting that oligogalacturonic acid (OGA) fragments produced by PG are triggering the H2O2 response. Systemin, OGA, chitosan, and methyl jasmonate (MJ) all induce the accumulation of H2O2 in leaves. Tomato plants transformed with an antisense prosystemin gene produce neither PG activity or H2O2 in leaves in response to wounding, implicating systemin as a primary wound signal. The antisense plants do produce both PG activity and H2O2 when supplied with systemin, OGA, chitosan, or MJ. A mutant tomato line compromised in the octadecanoid pathway does not exhibit PG activity or H2O2 in response to wounding, systemin, OGA, or chitosan, but does respond to MJ, indicating that the generation of H2O2 requires a functional octadecanoid signaling pathway. Among 18 plant species from six families that were assayed for wound-inducible PG activity and H2O2 generation, 14 species exhibited both wound-inducible PG activity and the generation of H2O2. Four species, all from the Fabaceae family, exhibited little or no wound-inducible PG activity and did not generate H2O2. The time course of wound-inducible PG activity and H2O2 in Arabidopsis thaliana leaves was similar to that found in tomato. The cumulative data suggest that systemic wound signals that induce PG activity and H2O2 are widespread in the plant kingdom and that the response may be associated with the defense of plants against both herbivores and pathogens. (+info)
Foodborne botulism associated with home-canned bamboo shoots--Thailand, 1998.
On April 13, 1998, the Field Epidemiology Training Program in the Thailand Ministry of Public Health (TMPH) was informed of six persons with sudden onset of cranial nerve palsies suggestive of botulism who were admitted to a provincial hospital in northern Thailand. To determine the cause of the cluster, TMPH initiated an investigation on April 14. This report summarizes the results of the investigation, which indicate that the outbreak was caused by foodborne botulism from home-canned bamboo shoots. (+info)