Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Feathered friends favour fruity flavonoids

01.04.2008
Fruit-eating birds actively select fruit with the highest concentrations of antioxidants – compounds that help them maintain a healthy immune system – ecologists have found.

This is the first time that a group of antioxidants known as flavonoids have been found to boost the immune system in studies on living animals, as opposed to test-tube studies. The results are published online in the British Ecological Society’s Functional Ecology.

Researchers from the University of Freiburg and the Max Plank Institute for Ornithology in Germany offered a group of blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla a choice of two foods. The foods were identical in all respects except for the amount of flavonoids they contained, and the researchers found that the blackcaps actively selected the food with added flavonoids.

As well as the food selection experiment, the study also looked at whether or not the flavonoids had an impact on the birds’ health. They found that, compared with birds not fed the antioxidants, blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla that ate modest amounts of flavonoids for four weeks had stronger immune systems.

According to the lead author of the study, Carlo Catoni of the University of Freiburg: “We fed the birds an amount of flavonoids that they would obtain by eating 1-2 blackberries, bilberries or elderberries a day. We used this modest intake of flavonoids because high quantities are only available during the limited time of maximum berry abundance. Our study shows for the first time that flavonoids are beneficial compounds that can boost the immune system in a living organism. We also found that wild birds actively select food containing flavonoids. Our results have important implications for the study of ecology and immunity in birds, and for the evolution of the relationship between plants and the birds and animals they rely on to disperse their seeds.”

In this study, the birds were able to tell which food had added flavonoids because – as would be the case in nature – flavonoids made the food a darker colour. However, the authors believe that the blackcaps know that the darker berries contain more flavonoids, and this is why they prefer them. “Studies by other ecologists and our own group have shown that blackcaps do not show a colour preference if food is nutritionally identical, so we are confident that our results are due to a learned selection for flavonoid content and not due to innate selection of darker food per se,” Catoni says.

Flavonoids – found in very high concentrations in fruits and vegetables – are among the commonest antioxidants in nature. Health benefits of dietary antioxidants have been the focus of much research during the past decade: during the past few years, more than 30,000 studies have been published on the health effects of flavonoid consumption, but only a handful of these involved living organisms. Although the mechanisms are not fully understood, scientists think that antioxidants help protect cells from damage by free radicals.

The blackcap Sylvia atricapilla is a European migratory species and eats fruit and insects. Because of its delightful fluting song, the blackcap Sylvia atricapilla has been dubbed the 'northern nightingale'. Primarily a summer visitor to the UK, birds from Germany and north-east Europe are increasingly spending the winter in the UK.

Becky Allen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org

Further reports about: Flavonoid antioxidants atricapilla blackcap immune

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
21.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>