Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Humble spud sprouts surprise

01.07.2005


UK scientists have identified bioactive plant chemicals in the most practical of staple foods, the potato. These natural chemicals have been associated with reduced blood pressure and they selectively affect a chemotherapeutic target for trypanosomes and similar diseases such as sleeping sickness.

“Potatoes have been cultivated for thousands of years, and we thought traditional crops were pretty well understood”, says food scientist Dr Fred Mellon from the Institute of Food Research (IFR). “But this surprise finding shows that even the most familiar of foods might conceal a hoard of health-promoting chemicals”.

Kukoamines and related compounds were found at higher levels than some other compounds in potatoes that have a long history of scientific investigation. However, kukoamines are little studied, as they have only previously been found in an exotic plant whose bark is used to make an infusion in Chinese herbal medicine.



Dr Mellon and his team stumbled across the compounds while doing an analysis funded by the Food Standards Agency. “No-one had expected to find them in one of the staple food crops of the Western world”, he says.

Scientists used to have to know what they were looking for when analysing composition. They might look for 30 or so known compounds. With new “metabolomic” techniques, they can find the unexpected by analysing the 100s or even 1000s of small molecules produced by an organism. IFR has just taken delivery of a new instrument to be used for metabolomics studies in diet and health, and food safety research.

“Only a small proportion of plants have been subjected to serious phytochemical analysis”, said Dr Mellon. “Until now none of the new metabolites we found in this study had ever been identified from any of the species we examined, and only one had ever been described from another plant source. Modern profiling techniques should enable major breakthroughs to be made in understanding how genes interact with environment to determine the complex position of a plant or animal in life”.

The scientists have yet to determine the stability of compounds during cooking and to conduct detailed dose-response studies to determine their impact on health.

The findings were published yesterday in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and are available online through the journal’s ASAP advance access:pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/asap.cgi/jafcau/asap/pdf/jf050298i.pdf

Zoe Dunford | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ifr.ac.uk

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>