Category Archives: 2015 Vol 27 Dec

A CHLOROPLAST DNA (cpDNA) EXTRACTION PROTOCOL FOR DIVERSITY ANALYSIS OF OIL PALM (Elaeis spp.)

Oil palm chloroplast is believed to be maternally inherited, making investigation of the chloroplast diversity an interesting endeavour. This article describes a method for extracting enriched oil palm chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) done on six palms of different origins from Angola, Nigeria, Ghana, Madagascar and Surinam. Restriction enzyme digestion was used to evaluate the successful extraction of the oil palm cpDNA. The use of a mitochondrial DNA-specific universal primer revealed that most of the cpDNA were free from mitochondrial DNA contamination. Three chloroplast-specific universal primers were also used to evaluate the cpDNA. Their amplicons were cloned and sequenced to confirm that the cpDNA was indeed amplified.
A search against the public databases further confirmed that the primers amplified sequences of the Elaeis guineensis Jacq. chloroplast genome. Two of them gave consistent amplification when tested on cpDNA from the Angolan, Nigerian, Ghanian, Madagascan and Surinam palms.

A MODEL FOR PREDICTING FLOWER DEVELOPMENT IN Elaeis guineensis Jacq.

The proper development of oil palm fruit is important as the source of oil is the fruit mesocarp and kernel. Prior to fruit formation, the development of flowers is therefore also important. Determination of the flower development stages in oil palm generally involves tedious histological analyses of each sampled inflorescence, making it a costly and inefficient way of gauging the developmental state. In this study, a statistical model was established from the association of physical or macroscopic measurement data to flower development, which was determined via histological analyses. The final reduced ordinal logistic regression model is a partial proportional odds model that uses inflorescence length and palm age as predictors to predict the flower development stage. The likelihood-ratio X2 test suggested the model adequately fits the data (p < 0.01). The model, with a prediction accuracy of 78.5%, can be used for selecting inflorescences of specific development stages from palms aged three to 10 years of field-planting. These stages can be further verified by histological analyses. This lowers the overall costs and time by reducing the number of samples requiring histological analysis prior to downstream studies.

EVALUATION ON THE CULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS AND ANTAGONISTIC ACTIVITIES OF Cladobotryum semicirculare AGAINST Ganoderma boninense in vitro

The objectives of this preliminary study were to identify the Cladobotryum-like isolate and assess the antagonistic activity of this fungus against G. boninense and other fungal pathogens. Based on both morphological and molecular approaches, the unknown fungus was later described as Cladobotryum semicirculare. Under dual-culture assays, Cladobotryum semicirculare was observed to suppress radial mycelial growth of all the tested fungi with G. lucidum and G. boninense G37’s growth being
inhibited the most, 74.8% and 74.7%, respectively. Clonostachys sp. inhibited the least (12.7%). Through poison agar test, filtrates from C. semicirculare at 50% concentration were observed to suppress the mycelial growth of G. boninense G14 (35% inhibition) and G. lucidum (25% suppression), and with 100% filtrate concentration both Ganoderma species were showing more than 49% inhibition. Growth
of all tested Ganoderma isolates and C. semicirculare, was faster under aerobic (2.2 to 3.8 mm per day for Ganoderma isolates and 4.3 mm for Cladobotryum) compared to anaerobic (1.6 to 2.2 mm per day for Ganoderma isolates and 1.4 mm per day for Cladobotryum) condition. In vitro mycoparasitism test confirmed that C. semicirculare reduced the re-isolation of G. lucidum (33.3%) and G. boninense (66.7%) mycelia. This study also provided the first report of G. boninense as the host for C. semicirculare.

AN OPTIMISATION STUDY FOR CATALYTIC HYDROLYSIS OF OIL PALM SHELL USING RESPONSE SURFACE METHODOLOGY

Oil palm shell has great potential for conversion to biofuels because of its abundance and favourable composition. Catalytic hydrolysis of oil palm shell was performed using sodium hydroxide as a catalyst. The main objective of the study was to optimise the process parameters for yield percentage of bio-oil from catalytic hydrolysis of palm shell by means of response surface methodology with central composite design. The parameters investigated were reaction temperature (140oC-230oC), reaction time (10-30 min) and NaOH concentration (04 m-1.5 m). The main product (bio-oil) was characterised using Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy and the bomb calorimeter to find the functional groups and higher heating value of bio-oil. Among all the three parameters, the NaOH concentration was found to be the most influencing factor for liquid yield percentage followed by reaction temperature and time, respectively. The R-squared value of the model was 0.9657 indicating an excellent match for values of liquid production in predicted and experimental results. The optimum conditions found were: temperature at 230oC, time at 10 min, and NaOH concentration at 1.5 M yielded 74.6 wt.% of product. The heating values determined for acetone and water-soluble products at optimum conditions were 22.4 MJ kg-1 and 14.3 MJ kg-1.

PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY OF BIODIESEL FROM PALM FATTY ACID DISTILLATE USING MILD ACID CATALYST

A two-stage esterification system for the production of biodiesel from palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD) has been developed using acid catalysts, i.e. sulphonic acids. The sulphonic acid catalysts have an excellent solubility property in water phase rendering easy phase separations and also can prevent the formation of undesirable by-products. The optimum reaction conditions for the first stage esterification process was achieved with 2:1 molar ratio of methanol to PFAD with 1.5 wt.% of acid catalyst, reacted for 90 min at temperature of 65°C. The optimum conditions for second stage esterification process enable the reduction of remaining free fatty acids (FFA) in PFAD to less than 2% with catalyst dosage of 1.0 wt.% under similar reaction conditions. The reaction product was then purified and subjected to transesterification process; 0.5 wt. % sodium hydroxide was used as catalyst at 65°C for 90 min. The fuel properties of PFAD biodiesel were found to comply with the European Biodiesel Standard, EN 14214:2008. Therefore, the developed process for production of biodiesel from low-priced feedstock PFAD is really applicable to actual biodiesel production with most competitive process due to its simplicity and excellent reaction yield.

A COMPARATIVE EVALUATION OF PHENOLIC HYDROXYL CONTENT OF OIL PALM

Free phenolic hydroxyl content was determined in various parts of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) such as trunk, frond, mesocarp, shell, empty fruit bunch and comparatively evaluated by aminolysis and periodate oxidation methods. This determination will elucidate the reactivity of lignin in oil palm and provide information for its future efficient utilisation. The results showed that aminolysis method consistently yielded higher values for phenolic hydroxyl content than the periodate oxidation method. More phenolic hydroxyl content was observed in the trunk, mesocarp and frond than in the shell and empty fruit bunch. As a comparison, phenolic hydroxyl content was also evaluated for hardwood, Japanese beech (Fagus crenata) and softwood, Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) for their sapwood portions. These samples have been selected because of their anatomical differences whereby, under botanical terms, oil palm is classified as one of monocotyledonous angiosperms, Japanese beech is classified as one of dicotyledonous angiosperms and Japanese cedar is classified as gymnosperms. Due to the abrupt increase in the formation of 1-acetylpyrrolidine in the aminolysis method, small discrepancy did exist between aminolysis and periodate oxidation methods, but the trend on the phenolic hydroxyl content was similar.

OPTIMISATION ON SYNTHESIS OF ACRYLATED EPOXIDISED PALM OLEIN USING RESPONSE SURFACE METHODOLOGY

Acrylated epoxidised palm olein (AEPO) was synthesised from epoxidised palm olein (EPOo), acrylic acid, hydroquinone and AMC-2® catalyst. Optimisation of the synthesis in terms of the reaction parameters was performed using so-called response surface methodology (RSM). The reaction parameters selected as independent variables were percentage of catalyst; molar ratio between EPOo and acrylic acid; reaction temperature and reaction time. The percentage conversion of epoxy ring to acrylate group was designated as the dependent response. The central composite rotatable design (CCRD) at five coded levels with four factors was used. The quadratic model was used to analyse the experimental data obtained. The quadratic model was significant at a 95% confidence level with Prob>F of less than 0.0001; the regression coefficient value, R2 was 0.9561 and lack-of-fit of 0.0646 as obtained by using analysis of variance (ANOVA). A percentage of AMC-2® catalyst of 1.0%; molar ratio between EPOo and acrylic acid of 1.0:1.2, reaction temperature of 120°C, and reaction time of 135 min were established as the optimum parameters in order to convert EPOo to AEPO at mild reaction conditions. The reaction temperature and the time for the acrylation reaction were substantially reduced to 75% with the incorporation of AMC-2® catalyst compared to the acrylation reaction in the absence of catalyst. The results also proved that RSM can be employed efficiently for the optimisation of the synthesis of AEPO catalysed by AMC-2® , as the percentage of conversion AEPO obtained with the optimum conditions was 99.26% adequate according to the predicted value by the software. The optimum reaction parameter can be used to scale up the acrylation reaction of EPOo to AEPO.

A RAPID AND COST EFFECTIVE ULTRASONIC SOLVENT EXTRACTION METHOD FOR DETERMINATION OF λ-CYHALOTHRIN AND CYPERMETHRIN RESIDUES IN SOIL

An effective, simple, and cost effective ultrasonic solvent extraction procedure was developed for the determination of λ-cyhalothrin and cypermethrin residues in soil by gas chromatography with electron capture detector (GC-ECD). Several extraction parameters were optimised with regard to the solvent type, solvent volume and duration of sonication. Under the optimum conditions, recovery studies were performed at five fortification levels (0.01, 0.02, 0.05, 0.1 μg g-1). The recovery level ranged from 93.99% to 101.49% and 90.59% to 99.50% for λ-cyhalothrin and cypermethrin respectively. The relative standard deviation values were less than 4% in all cases. The sensitivitiy of the method was acceptable with limits of detection (LOD) of 0.0025 μg g-1 and 0.01 μg g-1 for λ-cyhalothrin and cypermethrin, respectively. Finally, the proposed method was applied successfully for residue determination of both λ-cyhalothrin and cypermethrin in soil samples from an oil palm plantation in Labu, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.

ENHANCING THE SEPARATION AND PURIFICATION EFFICIENCY OF PALM OIL CAROTENES USING SUPERCRITICAL FLUID CHROMATOGRAPHY

Palm oil is the richest source of natural plant carotenoids in terms of retinol or pro vitamin A equivalent. The carotenoids found in palm oil consist of carotenes and xanthophylls, with about 500 to 700 ppm carotenes in crude palm oil. Effort has been made to extract and recover the valuable carotenes from palm oil, where they are being made into nutritional supplements or as ingredients in cosmetics formulations. This article reports on the application of supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) for such purpose. While SFC has been conventionally used as an analytical tool, its application in preparative or even pilot scale has been gaining popularity of late. The process and feasibility of extraction and recovery of carotenes from palm using SFC are reported whereby it was found that the SFC is able to purify the palm carotenes in consistent purity and production rate with no effect on the processing time. Carotenes were obtained in one chromatographic step with SFC, using carbon dioxide as the mobile phase and ethanol as modifier at 60oC and 190 bar. The purity of the end product and production rate however, can be greatly enhanced with the introduction of a pre-treatment step, prior to the purification by SFC. The purity of the end product increased by more than four-fold with the introduction of the pre-treatment step. The technical and economical feasibility of the purification of carotenes from palm, including the pre-treatment process, were studied and discussed in this article.

AN ALTERNATIVE LUBRICANT: THE POTENTIAL OF DOUBLE FRACTIONATED PALM OLEIN AS A LUBRICANT FOR ENHANCED TRIBOLOGICAL BEHAVIOUR USING A PIN-ON-DISK TRIBO-TESTER

The tribological behaviour of aluminium was evaluated through the processes of rubbing an SKD 11 counter under lubricated conditions using material alloy A5083 and a pin-on-disk tribotester. The wear rates and coefficient of friction of A5083 were found to increase with an applied load. When the wear rates and coefficient of friction of the sliding surface are at different sliding speeds, the wear rates and coefficient of friction will increase. Based on the results, double fractionated palm olein (DFPO) has a lower coefficient of friction compared to hydraulic oil and engine oil-SAE 40. However, DFPO showed a small wear scar diameter compared to the mineral-based oil. These differences in tribological behaviour seem to be affected by the material properties, which are responsible for the differences in tensile strength or hardness and load. The results of this study are deemed useful for material selection, besides providing insights into the understanding of the relationship among friction, wear and lubrication. The results presented herein may facilitate improvements in the future.

LABORATORY ASSESSMENT OF 14C-PHENYL METSULFURON-METHYL DEGRADATION IN AN OIL PALM PLANTATION SOIL

The 14C-phenyl metsulfuron-methyl is a selective systemic sulfonylurea herbicide. Degradation studies in soils are essential for the evaluation of the persistence of pesticides and their breakdown products. The objective of this study was to investigate the degradation of metsulfuron-methyl in an oil palm plantation soil under laboratory conditions. The soil used was both sterilised and non-sterilised soil in order to observe the involvement of soil microbes. The estimated DT50 and DT90 values of metsulfuron-methyl in a nonsterile system were approximately 13 and 44 days, whereas in sterilised soil, the DT50 and DT90 were 31 and 70 days, respectively. The principal degradation product after 60 days is CO2. The higher cumulative 14CO2 in 14C-phenyl in the non-sterilised soil compared to that in the sterile system suggests that biological degradation by soil micro-organisms significantly contribute to the dissipation of the compound. In some the major routes of degradation are O-demethylation, sulfonylurea bridge cleavage and triazine ringopened. In vitro study in order to identify the microbes involve in the degradation of the compound should be carried out in the future study.

THE DIET OF YELLOW-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus goiavier) IN OIL PALM AGROECOSYSTEMS

The Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) is one of the most sighted birds in oil palm plantation. A study on their dietary habits was conducted at the Durafarm Oil Palm Plantation from February 2011 to May 2013 to determine the reason behind their abundance. In this study, 45 individuals of P. goiavier were dissected for stomach content analysis. Ivlev’s electivity index (E) was used to measure the degree of food selection by P. goiavier. The results showed that this bird species mainly selected the Order Coleoptera (mostly pollinating weevil) (E= +0.97) and Homoptera (E= +0.87) as their main food sources in the oil palm plantation. This bird also selected Order Diptera (E= -0.30), Hemiptera (E= -0.43) and Hymenoptera (E= -0.92) as a prey based on their abundance. However, this species mainly avoided feeding on insects from Order Odonata, Orthoptera, Dictyoptera and Lepidoptera (E=-1.0 each) in oil palm plantation. There is a weak negative correlation found for the distribution of P. goiavier with the abundance of insects in oil palm plantation. Further investigation is needed on this bird species towards predating the oil palm pollinating weevil, since it could possibly affect the population density of the pollinating weevil and subsequently the oil palm fruit set.

BIODEGRADABILITY OF PALM-BASED LUBRICANTS

In the European countries, around 600 000 t of lubricants are released into the environment through normal use such as chain saw oils, railway point’s greases and two-stroke engine oils every year. The toxicity and biodegradability of lubricants are a crucial aspect in managing the sustainability of environmental. This article is intended to evaluate the biodegradability of palm-based lubricants in order to establish their environmental-friendliness. The respirometric method was used to monitor the biodegradation of lubricant samples over 28 days as described in the OECD 301F Test Method. The results showed that palm-based lubricants; mould oil, BO-20 and BO-18, readily biodegraded in aquatic environment with the biodegradability of mould oil reached 62.7% within 23 days, BO-20 reached 62.8% within 11 days and BO-18 reached 63% within 14 days which surpassed the 60% pass level within the test period. Meanwhile, the petroleum-based lubricants, mineral oil and motor oil, were not readily biodegraded when tested according to standard method OECD 301F as their biodegradability did not surpass the 60% pass level within the 28 days test period. The viscosity of a lubricant may also be used as an indicator in predicting the biodegradability of that lubricant. The petroleum-based white oil for example, has a low viscosity and it is readily biodegradable. The petroleum-based lubricant which is not readily biodegradable may cause problems when it comes to loss lubricants, accidental spillage and disposal. The use of palmbased lubricants are more environmental-friendly and are one of the alternatives to reduce adverse effects of lubricants on ecosystem.

EFFICIENCY OF NUTRIENTS REMOVAL FROM PALM OIL MILL EFFLUENT TREATMENT SYSTEMS

While most studies concentrate on organic removal from palm oil mill effluent (POME), the resulting nutrient recovery and subsequent removal from the wastewater is infrequently described. Although sporadic research has been performed to investigate nutrient removal efficiency of a single technology, the efficacy after combined with other technologies, which usually happened in industrial effluent treatment systems (IETS) has not been thoroughly checked. Hence, this study assessed the effectiveness of four IETS having different technology combination in nutrient removal. Nutrients such as total nitrogen (TN), ammoniacal nitrogen (AN) and total phosphorus (TP) from POME of these IETS were analysed. Of the four IETS investigated, the combined ponding system, anaerobic digesters and extended aeration coupled with fixed packing in activated sludge aeration tank showed the highest nutrient treatment efficiency (92.5% TN, 94.5% AN and 93.5% TP). Moving forward, POME management should gear towards sustainable recovery of essential nutrients through operative technologies.

ISSUES OF RUMINANT INTEGRATION WITH OIL PALM PLANTATION – Review Article

The National Agricultural Policy identified integration of ruminant with plantation as an important strategy to increase beef production. Thus, the nationaI beef production was forecasted to increase from 9500 t in 2005 to 20 200 t in 2010 while the numbers of cattle should reach 1 million by 2015. This follows integration of 739 600 ha of plantation with ruminant. A further increase to 2.2 million hectares for livestock integration should spearhead beef production towards self-sufficiency. Integration with ruminant provides additional income and biological control of weeds thus, reduces chemical contamination. Despite the efforts to promote livestock integration, the idea did not really take off. The managements of established plantations remain focused on palm oil production claiming that livestock integration distracted them from that primary function. Therefore, livestock integration system should be reviewed to encourage small planters’ participation via modifications of the current ‘on-farm’ or ‘farm within plantation’ integration where all activities are carried out in the same farm to ‘between-farm’ integration where each farm concentrates on a specific output with exchanges of resources between farms or farmers. However, ‘betweenfarm’ integration requires modification of the current policy on livestock-crop integration. Furthermore, it requires close coordination for successful and sustainable venture.