Category Archives: 2018 Vol 30 June

STUDIES OF BUNCH ANALYSIS 1 – VARIATION WITHIN AND BETWEEN PALMS

There is little information on variation in composition between different bunches from the same palm. In this study, bunch analysis was done on all bunches from three plots of 20 palms, over seven years. There were significant differences between palms for all bunch components. Palm means for oil/bunch were correlated with fruit/bunch and oil/mesocarp, and less strongly with mesocarp/fruit. A previously unreported correlation between palm means for fruit/bunch and oil/dry mesocarp was found; this appeared to be a genetic effect, as there was no such correlation within palms. There was also a correlation between palm means for fresh fruit bunch (FFB) yield and oil/dry mesocarp. Between bunches within palms, the most variable bunch component was fruit/bunch; for this and for oil/mesocarp the within-palm component of variance was much larger than the between-palms component. For fruit composition (mesocarp, kernel and shell/fruit), the between-palm variance was larger. Within palms, mesocarp/fruit tended to be negatively correlated with fruit/bunch. Shell/fruit was significantly correlated with kernel/fruit in most tenera palms, but not in most duras.

STUDIES OF BUNCH ANALYSIS 2 – BUNCH SAMPLING TO ESTIMATE OIL YIELD

To estimate oil yield in research trials, fresh fruit bunch (FFB) yield is multiplied by the oil/bunch determined on a sample of bunches, but there is no standard method for sampling bunches. Data from palms in which all bunches were analysed for seven years allowed actual mean oil/bunch (O/B) and oil yields to be calculated, and compared with estimates from samples. Samples of five bunches per palm gave poor precision, with 95% confidence limits of about ± 4% O/B. Increasing the number of bunches to 10 per palm gave confidence limits of about ± 2.5% O/B. Alternatives include analysing more bunches only if the coefficient of variation (CV) for five bunches is large, or measuring fruit/bunch and oil / mesocarp on 10 bunches, and mesocarp / fruit, which is less variable, on only two or three bunches. The mean O/B of five bunches may give acceptable estimates of oil yield per palm. For progeny or treatment mean oil yields, the mean of 50 bunches per progeny gives a CV of about 10%. Precision is increased if a bunch is sampled from every palm, rather than at random from the progeny. When considering mechanisation of bunch analysis, a method in which the bunch components are determined on different bunches has no disadvantages.

GENOMIC DIFFERENCES DETECTED IN THE OIL PALM TRUNCATED LEAF SYNDROME (TLS) RAMETS (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) USING THE REPRESENTATIONAL DIFFERENCE ANALYSIS (RDA) APPROACH

Truncated Leaf Syndrome (TLS) is a commonly found abnormality amongst tissue cultured plantlets of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) which, if severe, will eventually lead to the death of the ramets. It was hypothesised that this phenotype could be due to genetic variability. As such, Genomic Representational Difference Analysis (G-RDA) was carried out to identify potential markers that can be used in tissue culture process for early determination of TLS ramets. A total of 18 unique sequences were successfully obtained. Primers were designed and verification of G-RDA products through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses and sequence comparison was carried out using 12 clones of TLS and normal oil palm ramets. Two out of 18 set of primers [F4(6)-1181Bgl and F4(10)-1181Bgl] were identified as potential markers and further verified by PCR and Southern analyses. The primer set F4(6)-1181Bgl was only able to distinguish between TLS and normal ramet of only one genotype (Yangambi) with the presence of expected band in TLS but was absent in normal ramet. The primer set F4(10)-1181Bgl showed the presence of multiple banding pattern in the genotype of La Me and Yangambi. Analysis of the multiple band sequences revealed that those sequences represent multiple regions within the same genome, they are potentially polymorphic markers. The two primer sets mentioned above could be classified as potential genotype specific primers as it is only functional in selected genotype. Further verification with extensive number of samples is needed to elucidate the potential of the above two primer sets to be used as markers across all genotypes of oil palm.

REGULATION OF THIAMINE BIOSYNTHESIS UPON EXOGENOUS APPLICATION OF THE VITAMIN IN OIL PALM (Elaeis guineensis)

Thiamine (vitamin B1) is an essential microelement that is synthesised de novo by plants and microorganisms. The active form of thiamine is thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP), which plays a prominent role in plant’s metabolic activity particularly as an enzymatic cofactor. In vivo analysis of thiamine in oil palm was performed where four months old oil palm seedlings were treated with 125 ml of 50 mM thiamine hydrochloride and tissue samples were collected at Day 0, 1, 2 and 3. The expression of ThiC gene fragment was analysed via quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) which showed an approximately five-fold decrease post-thiamine treatment. Analysis of thiamine and its derivatives via high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) showed that the concentration of thiamine decreased, while TPP increased post-thiamine treatment. It is suggested that thiamine biosynthesis in oil palm can be effectively regulated at the physiological concentrations of the vitamin.

OPTIMISATION OF A CHROMATIN IMMUNOPRECIPITATION (ChIP) PROTOCOL FOR HISTONE MODIFICATION IN OIL PALM

Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) is widely used to study protein-DNA interactions, such as  histone modifications. A ChIP protocol was established for oil palm tissues by adopting ChIP protocols for other plants and optimising several parameters during chromatin extraction, DNA shearing and immunoprecipitation. ChIP-DNA was evaluated by end-point polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). The major modification that improved the yield and quality of DNA obtained at the end of the protocol was that the initial steps were conducted in a cold environment. Frozen tissues were also suitable with this chromatin extraction protocol. Satisfactory results were obtained with the optimised protocol, including good quality chromatin and subsequently intact DNA, smaller sizes of sheared chromatin and ChIP-enriched DNA suitable for PCR amplification.

ISOLATION AND CHARACTERISATION OF AN ETHYLENE RECEPTOR (ERS-TYPE) FROM OIL PALM (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) MESOCARP

The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) fruit is climacteric whereby ripening process of the fruits is accompanied by a burst of ethylene production. Hence, to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms and the role of ethylene in the ripening process of oil palm fruits, this study focused on the isolation and characterisation of the ethylene receptor gene, the first component in the ethylene signalling pathway. The full-length cDNA is 2225 kb long and encodes a polypeptide of 629 amino acid residues. Sequence analysis showed it has conserved domains and a protein structure similar to the ERS-type ethylene receptors found in ethylene receptor genes from other plant species. Northern and Southern analyses revealed that it is highly expressed in the mesocarp tissues and that this gene exists as multiple copies in the oil palm genome. These results provide evidence that oil palm fruit development is regulated by ethylene through the action of the EGER D3 ethylene receptor gene, which opens up the possibility of manipulating the ethylene receptor to control ethylene sensitivity during oil palm fruit development to help further improve oil palm yields.

Streptomyces spp. A POTENTIAL BIOCONTROL AGENT AGAINST Ganoderma boninense OF BASAL STEM ROT

Oil palm industry in Malaysia is suffering from one major disease known as basal stem rot (BSR), caused by Ganoderma species. Microbes were isolated from soil samples collected from Crocker Range of Sabah and the percentage inhibition of radial growth (PIRG) against Ganoderma boninense was determined. There were 72 types of actinomycetes isolated from 20 soil samples and the most potential actinomycete (A19) showed the highest PIRG with 80.00%. The interaction of A19 with G. boninense was observed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). G. boninense was inhibited by anti-fungal effect of A19 due to hyphae damage and A19 was successfully identified as Streptomyces spp. Metabolites of Streptomyces spp. A19, were extracted and ethyl acetate extract showed the highest inhibition to G. boninense. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of Streptomyces spp. A19 ethyl acetate extract was 0.18 mg ml-1. The extracts were then fractionated through solid phase extraction (SPE). SPE fractions (0.02 mg ml-1) showed better inhibition to G. boninense compared to crude extracts with the same concentration. Several antimicrobial compounds (ribostamycin, benzylmalic acid, landomycin B and salinomycin) were detected in these samples using Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). These metabolites may contribute to the antagonistic effect against G. boninense.

DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION OF A NEW GENERATION OIL PALM MOTORISED CUTTER (Cantas Evo)

MPOB has introduced an oil palm motorised cutter called Cantas for palms below 5 m harvesting height. Cantas could double up harvesting output compared to manual harvesting. However, several weaknesses viz. frequent breakdown, heavy and high vibration make it less favourable to users. This article describes the development, laboratory and field tests of the new generation Cantas called Cantas Evo. Results showed that Cantas Evo passed all the required laboratory tests. The weight and vibration of Cantas Evo are respectively 31% and 95% lower than the previous version of Cantas. Cantas Evo is able to reach 7 m harvesting height. Field trial conducted in Kuala Muda Estate in Kedah, Malaysia revealed that the repair cost was reduced by 90%, a saving of about RM 3000 per machine per year. With the good quality and performance, Cantas Evo is effective for palms of up to 7 m harvesting height. As for the economics, based on the machine cost of RM 3800 per unit, the harvesting cost comes to about RM 21.24 t-1 fresh fruit bunches (FFB), with the cost-effectiveness of RM 1.18 t-1 FFB.

EFFECTS OF PALM-BASED HIGH-OLEIC BLENDED COOKING OIL DIET ON SELECTED BIOMARKERS OF INFLAMMATION AND OBESITY COMPARED TO EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL DIET IN OVERWEIGHT MALAYSIAN ADULTS

High-oleic blended cooking oil (HOBO) comprises palm olein and canola oil, with more than 50% of monounsaturated oleic acid. Studies on the effects of HOBO on human health is limited and therefore, this study compared the effects of HOBO, extra virgin olive oil (OO) and coconut oil (CO) on biomarkers of inflammation, obesity and blood pressure in 32 overweight but otherwise healthy Malaysian adults. Subjects were randomised to receive three different dietary sequences, each comprising three six-week dietary periods with three-week washouts in between, utilising a double-crossover design. The HOBO, OO, and CO test fats were incorporated at 20% kcal into a background diet providing 30% kcal as total fat, 15% kcal as protein, and 55% kcal from carbohydrates. At the end of the dietary interventions, there were no significant differences (p > 0.05) observed on the effects of the three test fats on all the outcome variables measured – anthropometric indices [body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR)],  serum biomarkers of obesity (serum leptin, visfatin) and inflammation [tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 6 (IL6), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP)].

INFLUENCE OF PALM-BASED FLUID SHORTENING ON THE PHYSICAL AND TEXTURAL PROPERTIES OF BISCUITS

The aim of this research was to evaluate the performance of palm-based fluid shortening on the quality of biscuits in comparison to the control biscuits produced with solid shortening and refined, bleached and deodourised (RBD) palm olein. Solid shortening had the highest content of saturated fatty acids mainly palmitic acid while RBD palm olein contains the highest amount of dominant unsaturated fatty acid which is oleic acid. The fatty acid composition showed an absence of trisaturated fatty acid in RBD palm olein. The hardness of the dough, biscuit dimensions and physical properties were evaluated. The dough of the biscuit containing solid shortening was the stiffest and highest in weight as compared to the dough of the biscuit containing fluid shortening and RBD palm olein. The values for diameter, length, thickness and spread ratio varied significantly (P≤0.05). The study has demonstrated that the weight, thickness, spread ratio, moisture content and hardness of biscuits containing fluid shortening were insignificantly different (P>0.05) with the biscuits containing solid shortening. Biscuits containing solid shortening had the highest lightness value (L*). Thus, the results indicated that the performance of the fluid shortening in biscuits is comparable with solid shortening.

AUTOMATIC CRUDE OIL DILUTION CONTROL WITH PREMIUM OIL SEGREGATION USING NEAR INFRARED (NIR) ON-LINE SYSTEM

The clarification operation in a palm oil mill is an important processing step that should be carefully handled with as much care as possible. As the oil loss in the clarification processes is a major source of oil loss in the overall milling operation, there is an urgent need to improve the crude oil dilution control for efficient oil recovery. Currently, there are no reliable methods to maintain the oil to crude oil ratio. As a result, no automatic dilution control is in practice even when mill throughputs are widely fluctuating. The trend to produce crude palm oil with low (<1.5%) free fatty acid (FFA) appears to be increasing among the millers as it commands a premium price in the world markets. In order to meet this demand, it will be worthwhile to use the near infrared (NIR) analyser for rapid analysis of the crude oil. It is also more efficient than the conventional method. Field trial results have shown that the NIR On-line system can be used not only to control the water dilution at an average of 39% to 40% of the crude oil but also to monitor the FFA content below 1.5% for automatic premium oil segregation during the palm oil processing.

DETERMINATION OF TOTAL PHENOL, FLAVONOID, ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY OF OIL PALM LEAVES EXTRACTS AND THEIR APPLICATION IN TRANSPARENT SOAP

Oil palm leaves (OPAL) extract is gaining considerable interest as it is derived from a natural source and provides many functions such as anti-microbial effect towards bacteria, good ultraviolet (UV) protection and possesses the ability to combat several skin diseases due to its antioxidant properties. In this study, the phenolic compounds from OPAL extracted via four different extraction procedures i.e. extraction with ethanol (OPAL M1), extraction with hexane and followed by ethanol (OPAL M2), extraction with hexane and with ethanolic hydrochloric acid (OPAL M3) and aqueous extraction (OPAL M4) were studied. Total phenolic content (TPC) and total flavonoid content (TFC) of the OPAL extracts were determined and their antioxidant activity compared with butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). The results indicated that OPAL M1 and OPAL M2 had higher TPC and TFC than OPAL M3 and OPAL M4. All OPAL extracts showed antioxidant activities similar to BHT but required a higher concentration. The transparency and brightness of the transparent soaps formulated with OPAL extract were not affected at 0.1% concentration. Thus, OPAL extracts have the potential to be used as natural antioxidant and colourant in transparent soaps.

PERFORMANCE OF RECYCLED K10 MONTMORILLONITE CATALYST IN THE ALCOHOLYSIS OF EPOXIDISED PALM OLEIN

The syntheses of palm-based polyols by the alcoholysis of epoxidised palm olein with isobutanol were carried out at 60°C. The isobutanol to epoxidised palm olein molar ratio was fixed at 2.1:0.2. These reactions were catalysed by recycled K10 montmorillonite catalysts, which had undergone heat treatment at different temperatures, i.e., 50°C, 100°C, 150°C and 200°C. The performance of the recycled K10 montmorillonite catalyst (untreated or treated) in the alcoholysis reaction and the role of acid sites content in the catalysts towards the alcoholysis reaction were investigated. Results had shown that all recycled and treated K10 montmorillonite had good catalytic effect on the alcoholysis reaction which produced palm-based polyols with similar properties when compared to fresh K10 montmorillonite catalyst. The highest acid sites content in the recycled K10 montmorillonite catalyst was obtained at 100°C heat treatment temperature. The high acid sites content in the catalyst had accelerated the alcoholysis reaction faster than the other recycled K10montmorillonite catalysts. It can be concluded that K10 montmorillonite catalyst can be fully recycled in the alcoholysis of epoxidised palm olein with isobutanol, which may offer the potential to reduce the cost of polyol production.

SHORT COMMUNICATION: GENOMIC CONSTITUTION OF OIL PALM INTERSPECIFIC HYBRID CROSSES MONITORED BY GENOMIC in situ HYBRIDISATION (GISH)

Interspecific hybridisation of Elaeis oleifera (O) and Elaeis guineensis (G) oil palm was done to create recombinant progenies, containing various composition of parental genetic material. Genomic in situ hybridisation (GISH) on OxG hybrids had previously shown presence of 16 E. oleifera and 16 E. guineensis chromosomes. In this study, GISH was used to examine the metaphase chromosomes of the OxG interspecific hybrids hybridised with E. guineensis [(OxG)xG] to produce backcross one (BC1) progenies. Optimisation of unlabelled E. guineensis genomic DNA quantity were required to produce optimum discrimination of the E. oleifera and E. guineensis chromosomes. The amount needed was 120 μg indicating the high genome similarity. The chromosomes of BC1 individuals were 2n=32 and consisted of variable composition of E. oleifera and E. guineensis chromosomes while the interphase nuclei showed regions of parental genomes in discrete, non-intermixed domains indicating non-random organisation of the nucleus. The seedlings were created to assist in GISH analysis, hence, only leaflet plane correlation with the number of E. oleifera chromosomes transmitted into the progenies were done. No correlation can be observed between the numbers of E. oleifera chromosomes and the leaflet plane.

INVESTIGATION ON THE EMISSION REDUCTION TECHNIQUE IN ACETONE-BIODIESEL ASPIRATED DIESEL ENGINE

In this work, palm biodiesel was evaluated as an alternative to the petroleum diesel in compression ignition engine. This work would pave the way for the evaluation of the technological feasibility of employing palm biodiesel (BD100) in a diesel engine and also to discover the prospect of running a diesel engine on acetone in the dual-fuel blending mode to view its emission characteristics. Acetone was blended with palm biodiesel and operated at a compression ratio of 16. A base-catalysed transesterification process was employed to convert palm oil into palm biodiesel. Acetone with 96.4% purity was used as an oxygenated additive. The experimental results have revealed that the acetone to palm biodiesel blends gave a significant reduction in HC (hydrocarbons), CO (carbon monoxide), NOx (nitrogen oxides) and smoke emissions when compared to palm biodiesel under naturally aspirated conditions.

OIL PALM ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE IN MALAYSIA AND R&D PROGRESS IN 2017 – Review Article

Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) has emerged as a major economic crop feeding the world today. This article aims to capture the more recent progress made by the oil palm industry and to discuss the possible path research and development will take in the coming years. In 2017, palm oil and palm kernel oil production recorded close to one-third (75.17 million tonnes) of world total oils and fats production from a planted area of 19.04 million hectares, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia. Malaysian palm oil alone fetched RM 46.12 billion export revenue from its India and European Union markets. The continuous growth of the industry is made possible through implementation of key strategies covering the whole process chain, from upstream to downstream. Intensified mechanisation, integrated pest and Ganoderma management, advanced breeding and biotechnology as well as good agricultural practices help boost oil palm yields for both plantations and smallholdings. In the palm oil milling sector, focus such as by-products valorisation, biogas (productivity, trapping and utilisation as a form of energy) and wastewater management, i.e. palm oil mill effluent for final discharge compliance ensures that the industry meets its sustainable goals. Palm oil is generally used for edible purpose, however about 20% goes into higher value non-food applications such as palm biodiesel. The beneficial nutritional aspects of palm oil are evident based on its positional distribution and fatty acids composition, while its quality enhanced via technology integration/mitigation and analytical elucidations. Facing strong competition from petrochemicals, palm-based oleochemicals are strategically aimed at producing value-added products for niche and new markets. It is apparent that synergising conventional and disruptive technologies at every level of the palm oil supply chain is desirable and essential to thrust the industry forward. As a commodity, palm oil has not only emerged as an important food source, but has proven to be effectively utilised for feed, fuels and chemicals, to name a few, in developing a sustainable and balanced circular economy.