Category Archives: 2016 Vol 28 Dec

NUTRIGENOMICS AND ITS APPLICATION IN PALM OIL NUTRITION AND HEALTH RESEARCH

Latest research reveals that phytonutrients are capable of altering gene expression through acting on complex interactions in various biochemical and cellular pathways. This interactive interplay between phytonutrients and gene expression has given birth to a new field of frontier science known as nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics allows for deeper understanding of the mechanism of action of phytonutrients on health whether acting in silo or synergistically as a complex mixture. Through this new field of research, scientists have now affirmed that the food contains many biological active substances which affect gene expression and is capable of shifting the balance between health and disease states.
One of the richest sources of phytonutrients can be found in palm oil (Elaeis guineensis). Palm oil, other than containing fatty acids, it is also endowed with a wide range of health benefiting phytonutrients such as tocols, carotenoids, polyphenols, phytosterols and coenzyme Q10. In this review, concerted efforts will be made to summarise recent studies on the health benefits and the molecular mode of action of these dietary compounds found in palm oil. Further efforts will be made to exemplify how nutrigenomics through its comprehensive scientific validations can act as a catalyst to move palm oil up the agriculture value chain.

IMPACT OF PACLOBUTRAZOL ON THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF NURSERY GROWN CLONAL OIL PALM (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.)

The economic life of an oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) plant is associated with the stature of the palm as the height of each oil palm affects the cost of harvesting. Shorter palm allows ease of harvesting and better fruit recovery hence contributes to the increase of the fresh fruit bunch (FFB) yield. This study was conducted to investigate the effect of paclobutrazol (PBZ), an inhibitor of gibberellin (GA) biosynthesis, on the growth and development of clonal oil palms maintained under nursery conditions. Application of PBZ significantly reduced the growth of clonal palms with the optimal concentration of PBZ being 50 mg litre-1 when applied as a foliar spray. PBZ-treated palms exhibited shorter fronds that were dark green in colour and plants had a more compact structure as compared to untreated controls. Longitudinal sections of PBZ-treated oil palm clones revealed that both leaves and stems comprised of fewer cells each with a smaller volume. PBZ-treated plants exhibited a higher rate of photosynthesis compared to controls and this was correlated with an accumulation of starch in stem cells. These results provide evidence that the vegetative growth of oil palm is regulated by GA levels and that by manipulating the concentration of these hormones it may be possible to attenuate the oil palm height and ultimately increase productivity.

REGENERATION OF TRANSGENIC OIL PALM CARRYING GFP GENE USED AS A VISUAL SELECTABLE MARKER

Green fluorescent protein (GFP) has been widely used as a visual selectable marker for plant transformation. Transformed cells could be easily screened directly under ultraviolet/blue light without the need for any solution or substrate. In this study, oil palm embryogenic calli were bombarded with a transformation vector, p35SCaMV-sgfpS65T, carrying a modified version of gfp gene driven by the 35S promoter. Upon bombardment, the expression of gfp in embryogenic calli was monitored visually while the regeneration of the embryogenic calli was on-going. Regenerated plantlets on medium without selection agent demonstrated that only some parts of the plants showed GFP expression. When gfp gene was co-bombarded with plasmid pAHC25 carrying Basta resistant gene (bar), and the transformed embryogenic calli were regenerated on medium containing herbicide Basta, regenerated plantlets obtained also showed GFP expression in some parts of the plantlets instead of in the whole plant. Molecular analysis revealed the presence of gfp transgene in the transgenic plants. The possible reasons for the failure to obtain the whole plant expressing gfp gene will be discussed.

METABOLOME ANALYSIS OF OIL PALM CLONE P325 OF DIFFERENT PLANTING TRIALS

The production of oil palm clones via tissue culture technique will increase productivity and yield of the oil crop by providing elite and uniform material for the industry. To exploit their full potential, these clones need to be planted on prime acreage. However, limitation of arable land has pushed oil palm growers towards more challenging environment such as peat soil. In this study, oil palm clone P325 planted on peat and mineral soil trials were subjected to metabolome and multivariate analyses to capture their response to their planting sites. The investigation recorded spear leaf metabolome differentiation according to the field trials of different soil types, marked by the asparagine and dopamine abundance difference in principal component analysis (PCA) loadings plot. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) demonstrates a sensitive and rapid method in acquiring information that to date has been scarce for this important crop. Multivariate statistical analysis of PCA further enables the visualisation of the chemical distinction of the tissue from the complex data.

EVALUATION OF BUNCH INDEX IN MPOB OIL PALM (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) GERMPLASM COLLECTION

Eleven oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) germplasm collections from Nigeria, Cameroon, Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Tanzania, Madagascar, Angola, Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ghana were evaluated at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) for bunch index (BI), i.e. the ratio of bunch dry matter to total dry matter production. Besides fresh fruit bunch (FFB), yield estimation of BI requires the measurement of trunk height, trunk diameter, rate of frond production and petiole cross-section. Four consecutive years of FFB yield was used to calculate BI. The Tanzanian germplasm showed the highest BI and was significantly different from other germplasm for both dura (BI = 0.53) and teneras (BI = 0.54) accessions. High variation for BI among duras was noted in the Madagascar germplasm (CV = 70.69%), while among teneras high variation was observed in Guinea germplasm (CV = 43.34%). Broad-sense heritability estimate of BI for Sierra Leone was highest for dura (h2B = 75.27%) while that of Zaire was highest for tenera (h2B = 66.17%). Phenotypic correlations were high and positive between BI and FFB yield components. Therefore, increasing BI is likely to increase FFB yield. High BI palms (more than 0.6) would be introgressed into advanced breeding populations to generate high yielding planting materials. Additionally, tenera palms with high BI may also be multiplied by cloning.

REPLICATION OF Oryctes NUDIVIRUS (OrNV) IN INSECT CELL LINE DSIR-HA-1179 AND ITS INFECTIVITY ON NEONATES OF RHINOCEROS BEETLE, Oryctes rhinoceros

The Oryctes nudivirus (OrNV) or previously known as Oryctes baculovirus is a biocontrol agent for rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes rhinoceros. The replication of three types of OrNV, the types A, B, and C in the insect cell line DSIR-HA-1179 was studied. The cells were grown in PS100 media containing 10% fetal bovine serum. The signs of infection in cells by all types of OrNV were clearly seen at 10 to 14 days after treatment (DAT). The infected cells experienced cytopathic effects (CPE) involving formation of high number of vesicle or globule like-structures around the cells. The density of viable cells in flasks inoculated by the nudivirus decreased over time. At 16 DAT, the viable cell density in flasks inoculated with OrNV types A, B, and C was 1.49 × 105, 0.29 × 105, and 4.78 × 105 cells ml-1 respectively, significantly lower (P<0.05) compared to control flask of 7.98 × 105 cells ml-1. Based on the Tissue Culture Infectious Dose 50% (TCID50), it was found that the OrNV type B was more virulent than the OrNV types A and C as it produced high infectious virus particles. The TCID50 values for the OrNV types A and C were 3.00 × 107 infectious unit (IU ml-1) and 8.03 x 105 IU ml-1 as compared to type B which was 7.09 × 107 IU ml-1. The PCR analysis showed that all types of OrNV had successfully replicated in the cells as early as 4 DAT. Pathogenicity study on neonates using cells-propagated OrNV has again showed that the OrNV type B was more pathogenic than the other types of OrNV. The LT50 value for the OrNV type B was 33.47 days, shorter than the OrNV type A (49.35 days) and the OrNV type C (48.58 days). The DNA profiles of OrNV extracted from dead infected neonates in the bioassay were the same as those from infected gut tissues collected from field population. Thus, it is suggested that the Malaysian OrNV types A, B and C were successfully produced in cell line DSIR-HA-1179.

FIELD ABLATION AS CULTURAL CONTROL FOR BUNCH MOTH Tirathaba mundella INFESTATION IN YOUNG MATURE OIL PALM

The oil palm bunch moth, Tirathaba mundella, is becoming an oil palm bunch feeding pest of significant economic importance especially on peat soil in Sarawak. The goal of this research was to investigate the cultural control effect of field ablation on heavily infested young mature oil palm planted on peat by T. mundella. From the field census carried out at bimonthly interval after three rounds of field ablation, the ablated fields consistently showed significantly high new T. mundella infestation, 41.63% at week 20, 13.24% at week 28 and 7.68% at 36 weeks after three rounds of field ablation for oil palm fruit bunches category as compared to only 17.21%, 4.78% and 4.55% in the control fields within the same monitoring period. Besides that, the mean larvae count obtained from ablated fields at week 20 was 28.68 which was also significantly higher than that obtained from the control field at only 12.84 larvae. At week 20, the mean T. mundella larvae count and mean percentage of new infestation in ablated plots were 123.44% and 141.89% higher than control, respectively. Both detailed field census and random field sampling results suggested that there was no significant effect of three rounds of field ablation in reducing T. mundella proliferation and larvae density in actual field conditions. Therefore, field ablation could not be proven to be an effective control measure to manage the initial pest density and proliferation in the actual young mature oil palm fields especially when those fields were heavily infested. Other means of control methods should therefore be further explored to effectively control the pest, which at the same time is environmental-friendly to maintain a balanced oil palm ecosystem.

GROWTH AND LONGEVITY OF THE INSECT PREDATOR, Sycanus dichotomus STAL. (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) FED ON LIVE INSECT LARVAE

The suitability of Tenebrio molitor Linn. (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) and Corcyra cephalonica Stainton (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) larvae as food sources for the general insect predator, Sycanus dichotomus Stal. (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) was evaluated by examining the effects of different prey consumption on the predator’s growth parameters and longevity. The growth parameters assessed in this study were developmental period, body weight and femur length. Compared to single prey species, a combination of prey consisting of C. cephalonica and T. molitor larvae generally increased the growth and development of nymphal and adult stages of S. dichotomus. Different food sources showed different degrees of suitability: C. cephalonica significantly (P<0.01) shortened the developmental period of nymphal and adult stages compared to T. molitor larvae and combination of both larvae by 17.5% and 6.9%, respectively. Moreover, C. cephalonica larvae alone represent a more suitable food source for 1st and 2nd nymph instars development, compared to late nymphs and adults. However, the combination of both larvae had the shortest nymph’s developmental period (95 days), higher body weight and longer femur length, plus improved the adults’ longevity (69 days). The ratio of male adults was higher in the treatment which fed on T. molitor larvae and combination of both larvae, in contrast to the C. cephalonica larvae treatment. It is suggested that future works should examine the nutritional quality of the prey species to support these findings.

INFLUENCE OF FROND, STEM AND ROOTS OF OIL PALM SEEDLINGS IN VERMICOMPOST FROM OIL PALM BIOMASS

Chemical fertilisers contribute significantly to palm oil’s cost of production. There are also concerns that the uncontrolled use of chemical fertilisers can have negative implications on the environment. Many studies have evaluated alternatives not only to reduce costs but also to avoid complications associated with environmental pollution. This study investigated the viability of vermicompost cultivated in a media comprising oil palm empty fruit bunch (OPEFB) and anaerobically digested palm oil mill effluent (POME). Both these substances are abundantly available in Malaysia as by-products of the palm oil industry. Vermicompost application trials were conducted to study the growth pattern of the fronds and the stem heights of oil palm seedlings during the one-year trial period. Three distinct regimes were selected for these trials based on three different compositions of vermicompost: 100% OPEFB and POME (coded as V1), a mixture comprised of V1 and a chemical fertiliser at a ratio of 70%:30%, and 100% chemical fertiliser. The three fertiliser regimes were applied to three batches of three-month old oil palm seedlings at an oil palm nursery. The first regime, which involved treatment with 100% V1, showed a significant increase in the number of fronds (8.0), as well as in their heights (98.1 cm), at the end of the trial period. The results were comparable with those obtained for the other two regimes. The fronds, stems and roots (dry weight) of the V1 seedlings weighed 647 g, 274 g and 150 g per plant, respectively. These figures were higher than the corresponding values for the seedlings treated with 100% chemical fertiliser. The cation exchange capacity of the soil in which the V1 seedlings grew was also found to be higher than that of the soil treated with the other two regimes. Therefore, this study suggests that V1 exhibits good potential to be a viable substitute for chemical fertilisers.

ANALYSIS OF ENERGY UTILISATION IN MALAYSIAN OIL PALM MECHANISATION OPERATION

The aim of this study is to examine the energy used in Malaysian oil palm plantation operations, especially on fuel consumption in farm mechanisation practices. This benchmark study was conducted based on the energy input-output methodology. The results found that 258 GJ of input energy was required to produce 20 t ha-1 yr-1 of fresh fruit bunches (FFB). The energy was dominated by chemical fertilisers (66%), followed by labour (21%), machinery (10%), fuel consumption (2%), and chemical herbicide (0.5%), with an energy- use efficiency of 62%. A survey on the fuel consumption in the mechanisation practices was conducted at several oil palm estates. The results showed that almost 2.5 GJ ha-1 yr-1 of diesel fuel was consumed, which is equivalent to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of approximately 133 kg CO -eq ha-1 yr-1. The economic indicator was also studied to consider the types of energy improvement initiative that should be taken. This study suggested utilising renewable energy and greener energy technology such as electric powertrain charged via renewable energy source for farm mechanisation operations. It is expected that almost 9.8 kg CO -eq ha-1 yr-1 of GHG emission saving and a significant amount of improvement in operational costs 2 could be achieved by utilising the technology.

CHLORELLA BIOMASS PRODUCTION IN ANNULAR PHOTOBIOREACTOR USING PALM OIL MILL EFFLUENT (POME): EFFECT OF HYDRODYNAMICS AND MASS TRANSFER, IRRADIANCE, AERATION RATE AND POME CONCENTRATION

Palm oil mill effluent (POME) was used to culture Chlorella vulgaris UMACC001 in 5-litre, artificially illuminated airlift annular photobioreactors. Hydrodynamic and mass transfer characteristics were investigated for spargers perforated with different pore diameters. Maximum volumetric mass transfer coefficient and gas hold-up were achieved using sparger with 1 mm pores. The sparger was later used in the three-factor growth studies, i.e. irradiance, aeration rate and POME concentration, designated using five- level central composite design. Results showed the chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) content and specific growth rate (μ) ranged from 0.26 to 25.40 mg litre-1 and 0 to 1.033 per day, respectively. The response surface model concluded that increasing irradiance while maintaining the aeration rate and POME concentration indicates the light remained the limiting factor during experimentation. POME concentration and irradiance were found to significantly affect the Chl-a production, whereas the aeration rate was responsible for the μ. The optimised biomass contained 22.0 wt% of lipid, of which 57.0% of the fatty acids was saturated, 26.9% monounsaturated and 16.1% polyunsaturated. The predominant components, i.e. palmitic acid (C16:0), myristic acid (C14:0), stearic acid (C18:0) and eruric acid (C22:1) indicated that the biomass is a suitable feedstock for biodiesel production.

TRIBOLOGICAL PERFORMANCE OF REFINED, BLEACHED AND DEODORISED PALM OLEIN BLENDS BIO-LUBRICANTS

Vegetable oils have been investigated to replace petroleum lubricants due to their environmental-friendly characteristics and have become a vital source of bio-lubricants. In the investigation of the tribological characteristics of palm oil as the vegetable oil, using in its neat form or as partial bio-lubricants, a reciprocating machine was employed. Initially, refined, bleached and deodorised (RBD) palm olein with mineral oil blends were optimised using the design of experiments procedure from the outcomes of the four ball tribotester. The optimised blend was found to have characteristics that were better or at par with mineral oil. Then, a reciprocating machine was used for verifying the blend. In the investigation of the optimised blend, the sample was tested for a total of 60 hr in intermittent operation. Other than having similar viscosity for the ISO requirements, the optimised blend demonstrates decreased in the values of material weight loss and cylinder temperatures as compared with mineral oil. Finally, it is concluded that the RBD palm olein blend (E53.11/RB46.89) could be a potential partial bio-lubricant due to having no negative impact on wear and decent performance as a bio-lubricator.

POTENTIAL USES OF OIL PALM (Elaeis guineensis) LEAF EXTRACT IN TOPICAL APPLICATION

The antioxidant, anti-microbial activity and potential application of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) leaf extract (OPLE) as a skin lightening and sunscreen agent in topical application were evaluated. Currently, there are no evidence of skin lightening effect and protection against ultraviolet (UV) irradiation of OPLE. OPLE contains 9.84±0.06 mg gallic acid equivalent per gram of dry extract and shows antioxidant activity through 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl assay with IC of 247±0.58 μg ml-1. OPLE was effective only against 50 gram-positive bacteria and the minimum inhibitory concentration was 12.5 mg ml-1. OPLE also inhibited mushroom tyrosinase enzyme with IC 254.88 μg ml-1. Determination of UV spectrophotometric and in 50 vitro sun protection factor (SPF) indicated that OPLE provides a protection against ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) irradiation. OPLE were mixed with glycerine at 1%, 5% and 10% concentrations and showed slightly increase in SPF values from 0.96, 1.48 and 1.87, respectively. The UVA/UVB ratios were significantly increase from 0.076 for glycerine to 0.645, 0.906 and 0.910 for OPLE at 1%, 5% and 10% in glycerine, respectively. OPLE showed potentially good UV absorbance at UVB and UVA range wavelength and can be used as natural sunscreen and skin lightening agent for topical application.

RANCIMAT TEST FOR MEASURING THE OXIDATIVE STABILITY OF COOKING OILS UPON PROLONGED FRYING: SHORT COMMUNICATION

The induction period or oxidative stability index (OSI) of four parent oils, i.e. palm olein (POo), soyabean oil (SBO), canola oil (CNO) and sunflower oil (SFO) was investigated and to be further compared with that of three binary blends of POo with SBO, CNO and SFO, respectively and one tertiary blend of POo with SBO and CNO. Two oil ratios of 90:10 and 50:50 were prepared for the binary blends of POo + SBO, POo + CNO and POo + SFO while 40:50:10 for POo + SBO + CNO. All the oils were used to fry French fries at 180°C for a total of 72 hr (8 hr daily for nine days) of intermittent frying. The stability of the oil was quantified by using the Rancimat test following the AOCS Official Method Cd 12b-92. Incorporation of POo has generally improved the induction period of the unsaturated oils as compared to their unary forms. Indeed, POo and its blends gave higher induction period after frying for 24 hr. Irrespective of oil types, the induction period was relatively comparable towards the end of frying sessions. The rate of induction period reduction is likely influenced by the presence of tocotrienol homologues in POo and its blends.