Just as dark-skinned bunch grapes contain significant quantities of resveratrol,
so do some berries. Studies have shown that not only does this compound
protect grapes from fungal diseases, it also reduces risk of cardiovascular
disease and shows anticancer activity.
Researchers took samples of blueberries, cranberries, huckleberries, and
related plants representing 5 families and 10 species of Vaccinium
fruitalong with muscadine grapesto assay for resveratrol.
Several fruit samples contained varying amounts of the compound. Concentration
in the grapes was higher in the skin and seeds than in the juice or pulp.
The data will be helpful in increasing resveratrol in berry and grape
Agnes Rimando, USDA-ARS
Products Utilization Research Unit, Oxford, Mississippi; phone (662)
Chemoprotectant Broccoli in the Offing?
Broccoli florets and young seedlings are rich sources of glucoraphanin
and its breakdown product sulforaphane, which helps protect mammals against
cancer. Sulforaphane induces mammalian detoxification enzyme activity
and inhibits early tumor growth in rodent models. Little is known about
variations of these two compounds in broccoli varieties.
Now USDA scientists in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins University School
of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, have screened 71 USDA broccoli varieties
and 5 commercial hybrids for glucoraphanin and their potential to induce
mammalian detoxification enzymes. Using information from this work, breeders
may exploit genetic variation to produce new broccoli varieties with enhanced
chemoprotective response against cancer.
Mark Farnham, USDA-ARS U.S.
Vegetable Laboratory, Charleston, South Carolina; phone (843) 556-0840.
A Chinese leaf beetle, Diorhabda elongata.
|Beetles Sock It to Saltcedar
The first biological control agents to be set loose against invasive saltcedar,
Tamarix spp., are Chinese leaf beetles, Diorhabda elongata.
The 10- to 30-foot trees infest over a million acres along western waterways,
displacing native plants and wildlife, increasing soil salinity, diverting
natural streamflow, and increasing the frequency of wildfires.
| Since July 1999, caged beetles
have been carefully monitored at 10 locations in 6 western states. Now,
their postrelease activity will be closely followed to ensure their establishment
and evaluate their impact, population growth, and safety. The researchers
want to protect native species in the release areas and to facilitate
revegetation with native plants. The project operates in conjunction with
more than 30 federal, state, and local agencies; universities; and private
organizations. A $3 million grant in 2000 from USDA's Initiative for Future
Agriculture and Food Systems supports work on a complex of invasive weeds,
C. Jack DeLoach, USDA-ARS
Grassland, Soil, and Water Research
Laboratory, Temple, Texas; phone (254) 770-6531; Raymond
I. Carruthers, USDA-ARS Exotic
and Invasive Weeds Research Unit, Albany, California; phone (510)
|Helping Plants Tell When They're
Small, pencil-sized thermometers mounted on posts in a field can signal
plant thirst. They record the temperature and length of time that nearby
plants have been too hot. That information can be transmitted by cellular
telephones to a web site for farmers, homeowners, turf operators, or orchardists
to use in deciding when to water their plants or lawns. Or the devices
can be put on "automatic" to trigger irrigations.
Refined over 13 years, the BIOTICBiologically Identified Optimal
Temperature Interactive Consolesystem capitalizes on the finding
that plants grow best only within a narrow temperature range that varies
by species. Now being tested on a variety of crops in several states,
BIOTIC is patented and available for commercial licensing.
James R. Mahan, USDA-ARS
Plant Stress and
Germplasm Development Research Unit, Lubbock, Texas; phone (806) 749-5560.
Elders: Eat Protein for Strong Bones
Dietary protein may be as important as ample calcium and vitamin D in
maintaining strong bones in the elderly. Research with 70- to 90-year-old
men and women showed that those with the highest protein intakes lost
less bone over a 4-year period than those consuming half as much or less.
The study used data from 615 participants in the Framingham (Massachusetts)
Osteoporosis Study to examine the relationship between subjects' protein
intakes and changes in bone mineral density after 4 years. Researchers
accounted for all factors known to increase bone-loss risk.
Volunteers with the lowest daily protein intakes lost significantly more
bone than those with the highest intakes. Animal protein, as well as overall
protein intake, was associated with preserving bone. The findings confirm
several other large population studies.
Katherine L. Tucker, Jean
Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research
Center on Aging, Boston, Massachusetts; phone (617) 556-3351.
"Science Update" was published in the September
2001 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.