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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Functional Foods Research

2012 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 third year of implementation. The goals are to utilize current phytochemical analytical methodology to characterize, purify, and evaluate biologically and chemically active phytochemicals in a wide range of agricultural products and coproducts, 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. We examined coproducts from the processing of new and existing oil seed crops including camelina, lesquerella, cuphea, field penny cress, coriander. The press cake/seed meal co products have useful phytochemicals and/or physical properties for alternative agricultural practices. Extractions were performed on three abundant and underutilized species of juniper. Extract yields and the chemical compositions were determined. The extracts were found to have significant activity against wood-rot fungi as well as wound healing and anti-inflammatory activities. Utilization of ag-waste products (i.e., seed presscakes) as a filler material with thermoplastic resins offers an avenue to exploit a previously low value product. The key to ag-waste employment as a filler is to "refine" its chemical properties, i.e., remove excessive extractables to enable ag-wastes to become more compatible with thermoplastic resins. A large number of oil seed presscakes could benefit from these extraction treatments. Marginal (i.e., arable, profit-less, non-productive) land in the U.S. (~127 million hectares) has long been considered as an ideal location for growing biofuel crops. Alternative woody crops such as woody biomass trees (e.g., Black Locust, Mulberry) are considered an ideal for this purpose. These same trees can be coppiced and harvested at frequent intervals to provide a woody biomass flour source. Biomass from these trees has been found to be ideal filler materials for thermoplastic resins. We have been studying the secondary compound rosmarinic acid (RA), which is found in plants in the mint family, or Lamiaceae. RA has been shown to have a number of interesting biological activities, e.g. antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. We found that several species in the Lamiaceae had exceptionally high levels of RA, especially leaves of common sage, which are used as a spice. However, the presence of odor/flavor chemicals in sage leaves precludes use in most functional foods due to the strong odor and flavor. We developed food-grade extraction methods to produce extracts with elevated levels of RA but lacking the odor/flavor compounds. This extract can be incorporated into many types of processed foods, and taste-panel tests are currently ongoing.

4. Accomplishments
1. Evaluation of ethanol extracts of Ashe juniper. New environmentally safe alternatives for outdoor wood preservatives are needed to replace current practices. Agricultural Research Service scientists in the Functional Food Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, have shown that ashe juniper ethanol extracts were found to have highly significant inhibitory effects on wood-rot fungi, especially white-rot fungi. These extracts may provide a safe, natural wood preservation method derived from an abundant renewable resource to treat woods for outdoor uses.

2. Evaluation of glucosinolate content in animals fed camelina containing meals. Additional uses need to be found for the seedmeal produced from Camelina seed oil production. Seed meal byproduct from the production of pressed oil from camelina sativa seeds was fed to egg laying hens under a cooperative project. Agricultural Research Service scientists in the Functional Food Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, confirmed the glucosinolate content of the meal and feeds by methodology developed in this project, and eggs did not contain camelina glucosinolates or their metabolites isothiocyanates. This analysis was used to submit to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use camelina meals as ingredients in commercial hen feeds and a letter of no objection was issued by the FDA. This develops a new agronomic use for camelina meal coproduct from the production of camelina oil and helps make the crop more viable. Camelina seed meal enhances certain egg quality values.

3. Biocomposites incorporating seed presscakes into thermoplastic resins. One of the major problems with incorporating plant products into thermoplastic is the inherent incompatibility of two substances, including the occurrence of secondary metabolites and oils. Removal of secondary products and oils from plant materials results in new and more valuable plant fillers. Agricultural Research Service scientists in the Functional Food Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, have demonstrated that these "refined" fillers will blend better with thermoplastic resins than untreated fillers and will give enhanced plastic performance. These biocomposites can be employed for a variety of products including outdoor and indoor construction materials with other general plastics items currently marketed using 100% thermoplastic resins. In addition, these biocomposites are more "environmentally-friendly" than pure thermoplastic resins.

4. Wood plastic composites (WPC) employing small diameter woody biomass as filler. Wood filler (WF) bio-composites composed of up to 40-50% fillers can readily be extruded without major reductions in their mechanical properties. Currently most wood filler is derived from shavings and sawdust from mature milled lumber trees. Agricultural Research Service scientists in the Functional Food Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, explored the use of rapidly growing "weedy" or nuisance hardwood trees, which grow on marginal lands, are not used as conventional tree crops or ornamental species, and which can be extensively pruned (coppiced) on a regular basis. The coppiced tree wood fillers are cheap, readily available alternate source of wood fillers. This research showed that immature trees as young as two years old provide abundant and useful filler material for bio-composites. Potential commercial products generated using these WPC include construction materials, decking, sidings, and other generally useful items.

5. Replacement tackifers for hydromulches. Guar gum is the principle gum used as an adhesive (tackifer) for hydrolically-applied mulch (hydromulch) used in erosion control, and as a clumping agent for biodegradable cat litters. However, guar has become increasingly expensive due to its use in hydraulic fracturing processes for natural gas production. Agricultural Research Service scientists in the Functional Food Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, and their collaborators have examined several lower-cost alternatives to guar for mulch and cat litter applications. Plantago and xanthan gums, lignin, camelina and lesquerella seedmeals, and high-amylose starch-lipid complexes were as effective in resistance to simulated rainfall as guar when used as hydromulch tackifiers. For cat litter clumping ability, plantago and xanthan gums as well as methyl cellulose were equally as effective as guar gum, while pectin and the normal starch-lipid complex had acceptable clumping. These results demonstrate alternative ingredients available to producers have the ability to maintain product characteristics and contribute to lower prices for consumers.

Review Publications
Tisserat, B., Stuff, A.M. 2011. Stimulation of short-term plant growth by glycerol applied as foliar sprays and drenches under greenhouse conditions. HortScience. 46:1650-1654.

Tisserat, B., Selling, G.W., Byars, J.A., Stuff, A.M. 2011. Instrumental physical analysis of microwaved glycerol citrate foams. Journal of Polymers and the Environment. 20:291-298.

Eller, F.J., Teel, J.A., Palmquist, D.E. 2011. Continuous hydrolysis of Cuphea seed oil in subcritical water. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 88:1455-1461.

Berhow, M.A., Affum, A. 2012. Rosmarinic acid content in antidiabetic aqueous extract of Ocimum canum Sims grown in Ghana. Journal of Medicinal Food. 15:611-620.

Eller, F.J., Peterson, S.C., Sessa, D.J. 2012. Pressurized solvent extraction of pure food grade starch. Carbohydrate Polymers. 87(4):2477-2481.

Rodrigues, F.A., Carre-Missio, V., Jham, G.N., Berhow, M.A., Schurt, D.A. 2011. Chlorogenic acid levels in leaves of coffee plants supplied with silicon and infected by Hemileia vastatrix. Tropical Plant Pathology. 36:404-408.

Dowd, P.F., Johnson, E.T., Vermillion, K., Berhow, M.A. 2011. Coconut leaf bioactivity toward generalist maize insect pests. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata. 141:208-215.

Moser, B.R., Vaughn, S.F. 2012. Efficacy of fatty acid profile as a tool for screening feedstocks for biodiesel production. Biomass and Bioenergy. 37:31-41.

Puangpraphant, S., Berhow, M.A., Vermillion, K., Potts, G., Gonzalez De Mejia, E. 2011. Dicaffeoylquinic acids in Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire) inhibit NF-kB nucleus translocation in macrophages and induce apoptosis by activating caspases-8 and -3 in human colon cancer cells. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 55:1509-1522.

Boydston, R.A., Morra, M.J., Borek, V., Clayton, L., Vaughn, S.F. 2011. Onion and weed response to mustard (Sinapis alba) seed meal. Weed Science. 59:546-552.

Qureshi, N., Bowman, M.J., Saha, B.C., Hector, R.E., Berhow, M.A., Cotta, M.A. 2012. Effect of cellulosic sugar degradation products (furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural) on acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation using Clostridium beijerinckii P260. Journal of Food and Bioproducts Processing. 90:533-540.

Moser, B.R., Vaughn, S.F. 2012. Biodiesel from corn distillers dried grains with solubles: Preparation, evaluation and properties. BioEnergy Research. 5:439-449.

Kakani, R., Fowler, J., Haq, A., Murphy, E.J., Rosenberger, T.A., Berhow, M.A., Bailey, C.A. 2012. Camelina meal increases egg n-3 fatty acid content without altering egg quality or production in laying hens. Lipids. 47:519-526.

Jackson, M.A., Appell, M.D., Blackburn, J.A., Rheiner, S.N., Berhow, M.A. 2011. The acrylation of glycerol: A precursor to functionalized lipids. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 89(4):713-719. DOI: 10.1007/s11746-011-1950-5.

Dunlap, C.A., Schisler, D.A., Price, N.P., Vaughn, S.F. 2011. Cyclic lipopeptide profile of three Bacillus subtilus strains; antagonists of Fusarium head blight. Journal of Microbiology. 49:603-609. DOI: 10.1007/s12275-011-1044-y.

Tisserat, B. 2012. Parameters necessary for in vitro hydroponic pea plantlet flowering and fruiting. In Asao, T., editor. Hydroponics - A Standard Methodology for Plant Biological Researchers. Intech. Available:

Tisserat, B., Finkenstadt, V.L. 2011. Degradation of poly(L-lactic acid) and bio-composites by alkaline medium under various temperatures. Journal of Polymers and the Environment. 19:766-775.

Tisserat, B., Harry O Kuru, R.E., Cermak, S.C., Evangelista, R.L., Doll, K.M. 2012. Potential uses for cuphea oil processing byproducts and processed oils. Industrial Crops and Products. 35:111-120.

Tisserat, B., Harry O Kuru, R.E., Hwang, H.-S., Mohamed, A.A., Holser, R.A. 2012. Glycerol citrate polyesters produced through microwave heating. Journal of Applied Polymer Science. 125(5):3429-3437.

Last Modified: 05/24/2017
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