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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Functional Foods Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The long term goal of this project is to develop natural, functional, phytochemical-based products from agricultural crop production and processing co-products. These new products will have application as food, feed, bio-based controls and in soil remediation. Over the next five years we will focus on the following specific objectives: Objective 1: Evaluate and characterize bioactive compounds in co-products and waste products from oil seed processing, corn ethanol production, new or alternate crop production, seeds and plant biomass for new value-added bio-based control and remediation agronomic products; Objective 2: Evaluate and characterize bioactive compounds in co-products and waste products from oil seed processing, corn ethanol production, new or alternate crop production, seeds and plant biomass for use as new health enhancing foods and food additives and for new health enhancing cosmetic products.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Rapid and efficient methods will be developed to characterize phytochemicals from crude and processed agricultural products and co-products, and used to develop new products from current agricultural crops and developing new and alternative crops. The production of biofuels and agricultural food products generates a variety of co-products (carbon dioxide, sugars, fibers, corn dried distillers grain; glycerol; seed press cakes) and other less valuable residues. Redirecting these wastes to more profitable, higher value uses would benefit both the producers and processors. Characterized phytochemicals will be evaluated in plants and plant products from established crops and new crops, as well as in products from biofuel crops, such as oil fractions, oil seed press cakes and dried distillers grains. This research will be used to develop accurate analytical methodology and rapid non-destructive spectrophotometric analytical methods to rapidly assess the levels of specific phytochemicals in seeds, tissues and processed products. New phytochemical-based products from crops grown on marginal crop lands will be examined for sources of commercial products. This research will be used to develop new agricultural pest control products for bacterial, fungus, insects, nematodes and weeds; chemical feed stocks for industrial processes; and to enhance the use of existing or develop new functional foods for improved health in humans and animals. Our research will target those activities that improve the practical use of by-products by creating new uses and markets for these products. This research will result in defining the roles for phytochemicals and develop new/enhanced functional products and foods.

3. Progress Report:
This research project went through the project plan review process in 2009-2010 and is currently in the fourth year of implementation. The goals are to characterize, purify, and evaluate biologically and chemically active phytochemicals in a wide range of agricultural products and co-products, new crops, and alternative crops to develop: a) green new or alternative functional food ingredients to promote health in humans and animals; and b) environmentally friendly pest/disease control products for home and agriculture use. We developed methods to identify, quantitate, and purify gram quantities of intact glucosinolates from crucifer species to prepare products for evaluation in pest control, industrial antioxidants, and in human disease prevention. Glucosinolate levels were determined in camelina and other Brassica species to evaluate as feeds for livestock and chickens. Purified glucosinolates and other phytochemicals are being evaluated for biological activities through work with collaborators. The secondary compound rosmarinic acid (RA) is found in plants in the mint family. RA has been shown to have a number of biological activities, e.g., antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. We found that several species have exceptionally high levels of RA, especially leaves of common sage. The presence of odor/flavor chemicals in sage leaves precludes use in most functional foods. We developed food-grade extraction methods to produce extracts with elevated levels of RA but lack the odor/flavor compounds. This extract can be incorporated into many types of processed foods, and taste panel tests are currently ongoing. Extractions were performed on three abundant and under-utilized species of Juniper. The extracts were found to have significant activity against wood-rot fungi as well as wound healing and anti-inflammatory activities. The press cake/seed meal from oil seed processing have useful phytochemicals and/or physical properties for alternative agricultural practices, new and alternative water absorbing materials from plant sources, and agricultural co-products, such as potato peel waste, corn distillers grains, corn bran, and biochar, are being evaluated as bioabsorbants in hydromulches, pelletized litters, and as peat moss replacements in potting soils. These press cakes are also being employed as fillers with thermoplastic resins to create novel biocomposites. Various low-cost washing and other techniques were used to improve the quality of low-value press cake fillers to that of high-value reinforcement materials. Marginal (i.e., arable, profit-less, non-productive) land in the U.S. has long been considered as an ideal location for growing biofuel crops, alternative woody crops such as woody biomass trees are considered ideal for this purpose. These same trees can be harvested at frequent intervals to provide a woody biomass source. Biomass from these trees has been found to be ideal filler materials for thermoplastic resins.

4. Accomplishments
1. New natural products for use as biodegradable adhesive agents in water based applied mulches. Guar gum is currently the principal gum used as an adhesive agent in water based mulches used in erosion control, and as a clumping agent in biodegradable cat litters. Due to recent severe price increases for guar gum (from approximately U.S. $2.00 to U.S. $20.00) have been caused by high guar gum demand for other processes, therefore cheaper alternatives are needed. Agricultural Research Service scientists in the Functional Food Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, examined several alternatives, including xanthan gum, plantago gum, methyl cellulose, pectin, lignin, camelina (Camelina sativa L. Crantz), and lesquerella [Lesquerella fendleri (A. Gray) S. Wats] seed meals (which both contain polysaccharide gums), waxy corn starch (which lacks amylose), and both high amylose (70% apparent amylose content), and normal (25% apparent amylose content) corn starch-sodium palmitate inclusion complexes produced by steam jet cooking. The results indicate that several of these materials are potential alternatives to guar as a tackifier for hydromulch and in clumping cat litter, particularly as their material costs are currently significantly lower than guar.

2. New ingredients for use in biocomposites. Several thermoplastic resins and press cake materials have been combined to produce novel biocomposites which can be employed as construction materials. Improvement of these fillers involves removal of excess oils in the materials retained after pressing and chemical modification through acetylation techniques. Our interest has focused on testing these press cake biocomposites for their mechanical strength and environmental durability. Long term (i.e., one year) tests by Agricultural Research Service scientists in the Functional Food Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, determined that these press cake composites retain their physical properties in typical outdoor environmental conditions. These can be used to create new compost coverings and other outdoor products.

3. Evaluation of renewable woody mass fibers in resin preparation. New biobased fillers are needed to create bio-based filler materials for fuels, chemicals, and construction fillers. Utilization of rapid-growth tree crops that can be harvested up to twice a year offers fiber-based biomass and can be incorporated into thermoplastic resins to obtain composites that are utilized in the construction and automotive industries. Agricultural Research Service scientists in the Functional Food Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, determined that products made from young trees can be used as a substitute for sawdust as construction filler materials. This will provide a use for problem weedy trees which can be reharvested without planting new seedlings. In addition, these trees will provide fiber products which are generally more resistant to degradation than sawdust and fiber from the more commonly used construction lumber.

Review Publications
Tisserat, B., Joshee, N., Mahapatra, A.K., Selling, G.W., Finkenstadt, V.L. 2013. Physical and mechanical properties of extruded poly(lactic acid)-based Paulownia elongata biocomposites. Industrial Crops and Products. 44:88-96.

Tisserat, B., Reifschneider, L., Harry O Kuru, R.E., Finkenstadt, V.L. 2013. Mechanical and thermal properties of high density polyethylene – dried distillers grains with solubles composites. BioResources. 8(1):59-75.

Berhow, M.A., Polat, U., Glinski, J.A., Glensk, M., Vaughn, S.F., Isbell, T., Ayala-Diaz, I., Marek, L., Gardner, C.A. 2013. Optimized analysis and quantification of glucosinolates from Camelina sativa seeds by reverse-phase liquid chromatography. Industrial Crops and Products. 43:119-125.

Compton, D.L., Eller, F.J., Laszlo, J.A., Evans, K.O. 2012. Purification of 2-monoacylglycerols using liquid CO2 extraction. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 89(8):1529-1536.

Cermak, S.C., Biresaw, G., Isbell, T.A., Evangelista, R.L., Vaughn, S.F., Murray, R.E. 2013. New crop oils - Properties as potential lubricants. Industrial Crops and Products. 44:232-239.

Puangpraphant, S., Dia, V.P., Gonzalez de Mejia, E., Garcia, G., Berhow, M.A., Wallig, M.A. 2013. Yerba mate tea and mate saponins prevented azoxymethane-induced inflammation of rat colon through suppression of NF-kB p65ser(311) signaling via IkB-a and GSK-3ß reduced phosphorylation. BioFactors. 39(4):430-440.

Tumen, I., Suntar, I., Eller, F.J., Keles, H., Akkol, E. 2013. Topical wound-healing effects and phytochemical composition of heartwood essential oils of Juniperus virginiana L., Juniperus occidentalis Hook., and Juniperus ashei Juniperus Buchholz. Journal of Medicinal Food. 16(1):48-55.

Vaughn, S.F., Kenar, J.A., Felker, F.C., Berhow, M.A., Cermak, S.C., Evangelista, R.L., Fanta, G.F., Behle, R.W., Lee, E. 2013. Evaluation of alternatives to guar gum as tackifiers for hydromulch and as clumping agents for biodegradable cat litter. Industrial Crops and Products. 43:798-801.

Laszlo, J.A., Cermak, S.C., Evans, K.O., Compton, D.L., Evangelista, R.L., Berhow, M.A. 2013. Medium-chain alkyl esters of tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol antioxidants by cuphea oil transesterification. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology. 115(3):363-371.

Tumen, I., Eller, F.J., Clausen, C.A., Teel, J.A. 2013. Antifungal activity of heartwood extracts from three Juniperus species. Bioresources. 8(1):12-20.

Serventi, L., Chitchumroonchokchai, C., Riedl, K.M., Kerem, Z., Berhow, M.A., Vodovotz, Y., Schwartz, S.J., Failla, M.L. 2013. Saponins from soy and chickpea: stability during beadmaking and in vitro bioaccessibility. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 61:6703-6710.

Last Modified: 09/23/2017
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