Category Archives: 2018 Vol 30 Sept

GENETIC DIVERSITY AND INBREEDING LEVEL IN DELI Dura AND AVROS ADVANCED BREEDING MATERIALS IN OIL PALM (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) USING MICROSATELLITE MARKERS

Oil palm has a narrow genetic diversity due to intensive selection in breeding. Loss of diversity in breeding materials can lead to many consequences, despite uniformity is critical to breeders. The objectives of the study are to evaluate the genetic diversity in Deli and AVROS populations, and to determine the levels of inbreeding using CIRAD’s Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers. The parental populations evaluated were 186 palms from Deli and 188 palms from AVROS progenies sourced from two agencies. Genotyping using 32 SSR markers produced 230 alleles among the 17 oil palm progenies. The number of alleles scored ranged between 4 to 11. The average number of alleles per locus was 7.1875. The expected heterozygosity (He) and observed heterozygosity (Ho) were 0.7063 and 0.5270, respectively. The dendogram revealed that the 17 populations were clustered into three main clusters namely Deli dura, AVROS and Ekona populations. The two different generations of AVROS resulted in Genting AgTech Sdn Bhd (GAT) AVROS had inbreeding coefficient of 0.0336 compared to Department of Agriculture (DOA) Sabah AVROS which was -0.0810. The diversity revealed via SSR showed that there are still present of variability in some of the progenies. The inbreeding level can serve as guidance during the inbred lines development.

MOLECULAR CLONING OF Ganoderma boninense HOG1-TYPE MITOGEN-ACTIVATED PROTEIN KINASE (MAPK) cDNA AND TRANSCRIPTIONAL RESPONSE TO SALINITY STRESS

The white rot fungus, Ganoderma boninense is the main causal agent of basal stem rot disease in oil palm plantations in South-east Asia especially Malaysia and Indonesia. Despite serious attention given the fungus, knowledge on the pathogen-oil palm interaction especially from the molecular and biochemical aspects is still inadequate to provide a better understanding on the disease. In this study, an 1161 bp of full-length cDNA encoding a Hog1-type MAPK was obtained from G. boninense. Based on the multiple sequence alignment, the conserved motif TGY (novel activation loop motif), N-terminal-conserved domain, HRDLKPN and the C-terminal-conserved domain, TRWYRAP were found in G. boninense Hog1 MAPK. Results of salinity stress assay indicated that G. boninense growth was slower on media containing 0.4 M NaCl and could not survive on media containing 1.0 M NaCl. Real-time quantitative PCR analysis showed that GbHog1 MAPK transcript was consistently upregulated to nearly 4.0 folds after 2 hr of exposure to 0.4 M NaCl. This study provides a preliminary understanding on the involvement of GbHog1 MAPK in salinity stress response. Identification of GbHog1 MAPK could also lead to understanding of the involvement of G. boninense MAPK in pathogenicity as reported in several plant pathogenic fungi.

BIOCHEMICAL PROFILE OF BACTERISED CALLI AND EMBRYOGENIC CALLI OF OIL PALM (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.)

Recent approaches have been made with regard to successful association of in vitro oil palm materials and diazotrophs. But, no biochemical study was revealed to explain possible relationship between the diazotroph and in vitro oil palm plant proliferation processes. In this study, calli and embryogenic calli of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) were treated with different inoculums of Herbaspirillum seropedicae strain Z78 (ATCC 35893) namely, sonicated cells and pellet cells. Treated oil palm tissues were observed for total amino acids, proteins, phenolics and sugar levels which were extracted and quantified every 10 days throughout 60 days of culturing. Results reveal a reduction of total sugar levels, increment of phenolics, amino acids and protein contents of bacterised calli with Z78 pellet cells which can explain rapid progression of embryogenic development. High content of phenolic compounds, sugar levels with the reduction of amino acids and proteins in bacterised embryogenic calli with Z78 sonicated cells would elucidate accelerated embryo regeneration and maturation. These results provide a novel explanation for biochemical profiles of bacterised oil palm calli and embryogenic calli. With the understanding of biochemical patterns, this can act as a guide for further in-depth study on in vitro plant cells-microbe interactions.

ASSESSMENT ON Trichoderma spp. MIXTURE AS A POTENTIAL BIOCONTROL AGENT OF Ganoderma boninense INFECTED OIL PALM SEEDLINGS

Diseases caused by Ganoderma spp. have been causing serious oil palm yield losses and affecting its contribution to the producers’ economy. Research on sustainable and eco-friendly remedy to counter the disease is on the upsurge. Trichoderma spp. have been the most studied and valued microbes as biological control agents (BCA) in an effort to combat a wide range of plant diseases. Therefore, in this current study, the potential of Trichoderma spp. ( Trichoderma asperellum, Trichoderma harzianum, and Trichoderma virens) as a mixture was evaluated as a BCA against basal stem rot disease of oil palm. The mixture of Trichoderma spp. demonstrated a disease reduction of 83.03% and 89.16% from the foliar and bole symptoms, respectively. The highest peroxidase (PO) level was detected in T1 (167.9 U g-1 tissue) at four months after post inoculation (mpi), and the lowest in T5 (72.3 U g-1 tissue) at 1 mpi. Treatment 4 with all the three Trichoderma spp. displayed the maximum level of polyphenol oxidase (PPO) among all the treatments conducted. Similarly, T4 recorded the highest accumulation of total phenolic content (TPC) (49.6 mg g-1) in the seedling roots at harvest. Disease infestation was slower in Trichoderma treated seedlings regardless of a single or mixture application compared to the positive control.

ANALYSIS OF AIRBORNE HYPERSPECTRAL IMAGE USING VEGETATION INDICES, RED EDGE POSITION AND CONTINUUM REMOVAL FOR DETECTION OF Ganoderma DISEASE IN OIL PALM

The basal stem rot (BSR) of oil palm caused by Ganoderma has brought huge losses to the oil palm industry in Malaysia. Airborne hyperspectral remote sensing technology may provide assistance to detect and classify different categories of Ganoderma disease severity index (DSI) in oil palm. In this study, five common vegetation indices (VI), four red edge position (REP) and four continuum removal (CR) were applied to categorise oil palm into T1 (healthy), T2 (mild) and T3 (severe) infection of Ganoderma disease in oil palm. The accuracy of the VI, REP and CR were assessed using confusion matrix and t-test. The results revealed that two VI, i.e. Simple Ratio Index (SRI) and Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) have moderate capability for the detection of Ganoderma disease in oil palm. SRI showed moderate classification accuracy (44.4%) compared to EVI with 40.7% accuracy; while the other three VI had poor accuracy (<40%). The analysis of REP using t-test showed that none of the REP could differentiate between T1 vs. T2 significantly, but differences between T1 vs. T3 and T2 vs. T3 are statistically obvious. Meanwhile analysis using CR gave promising results when there are statistical significant differences between T1 vs. T2 in the 500 nanometer (nm) absorption region of Band Depth Normalised to Area (BDNA). In conclusion, the common VI and REP generated from airborne hyperspectral image had low to moderate accuracy for detection of Ganoderma disease. Meanwhile, CR gave promising results for early detection of the disease. Further analysis must be conducted to validate and ensure the robustness of the results and also should look towards generating specific spectral indices and bi-directional reflectance (BRDF) model for detection of Ganoderma disease in oil palm.

EUKARYOTIC BIODIVERSITY IN MIXED PEAT ECOSYSTEMS IN SARAWAK, MALAYSIA

Eukaryotes are ubiquitous and play critical roles in food web dynamics, global carbon and nutrient cycle. Possessing multiple nutritional modes, eukaryotes play key roles as producers, decomposers, parasites, and predators. Little is known about the composition and diversity of eukaryotes in the different tropical peat ecosystems and how land-use change affect them. In this study, next generation sequencing was used for sequencing within the 18S rDNA gene to analyse the differences in the diversity and relative abundance of eukaryotes types. The finding indicated, in the dry month of April 2012, the operational taxonomic unit for eukaryotic community for peatland at Maludam National Park was low (986), high for logged over peatland Cermat Ceria (1853) and 7 years old oil palm plantation (1677) at Durafarm, Sri Aman, Sarawak and decreased to 865 for 11 years old oil palm at Naman, Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia. Similarly, the α-diversity of eukaryotic community indicated species per sample ID at Maludam was low (65), high (450) for loggedover peatland and Durafarm (400) and Naman (200). Total phyla was highest, 28 for oil palm plantation at Durafarm, 27 for logged-over peatland, 23 for Maludam and 20 for Naman. The taxonomic composition of eukaryotic community indicated the population at the peatlands comprised mainly of fungi and other unclassified eukaryotes. While under the matured oil palm plantations, the predominant eukaryotic kingdom was fungi. The common fungal phyla for all peat ecosystems were Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Fungi incertae sedis and Chytridiomycota. Ustilaginomycota being dicot parasitic fungi, was found in the peatlands at Maludam and Cermat Ceria but absent in oil palm plantations. Blastocladiomycota was absent in Maludam National Park but present in all other peat ecosystems. While, Glomeromycota and Neocallimastigomycota were present in logged-over peatland. The fungal population increased in the oil palm cultivated areas because of the absence of water logged area, drainage system for water management, presence of abundant organic biomass, high rainfall, soil acidity and soil moisture content. On the contrary, the minor predatory, autothropic and parasitic Alveolata, Nuclearidae and Fonticula, Rhizaria, Stramenopiles and Amoebozoa decreased with drainage and cultivation of oil palm and reduction of aquatic flora and fauna. The impacts of human activities such as construction of drainage system, logging and cultivation of oil palm resulted in obvious increase in the eukaryotic biodiversity due to abundant organic biomass and reduction in water logged peat. As the oil palm reached the aged of 11 year the eukaryotic biodiversity declined, probably due to peat compaction and reduction of decaying organic matters.

PROKARYOTIC BIODIVERSITY IN MATURED OIL PALM PLANTATION COMPARED TO LOGGED-OVER AND PRIMARY FOREST IN DEEP PEAT, SARAWAK, MALAYSIA

Soil microbes are the unseen living organisms which are involved in various roles for oil palm productivity. Matured oil palm plantation peat soil may be inhabited by different bacterial populations compared to logged-over and primary forest. Thus, conversion of peat forests into oil palm plantations might cause changes in the prokaryotic population in soil. The differences in the prokaryotic population were analysed to assess the profile of the prokaryotic population in each ecosystem. In this study, Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis of the purified 16 rDNA amplicon (16S PCR-DGGE) was analysed. Berger-Parker and Shannon-Weaver Species Index indicated that Durafarm Plantation, DF (0.10, 8.05) had the most diverse soil population followed by Maludam primary forest, MD (0.11, 7.75) and Cermat Ceria loggedover forest, CC (0.19, 7.63). The 16S rDNA sequence analysis showed that all ecosystems were dominated by unclassified Bacteria (62%, 65%, 69%), followed by Acidobacteria (8%, 19%, 4%), Actinobacteria (8%, 6%, 12%), α-Proteobacteria (8%, 3%, 8%) and Firmicutes (5%, 2%, 2%), respectively for MD, CC and DF. Increased number of species was recorded in Durafarm Plantation with the emergence of the forest microbes such as Acidipila rosea, Acidimicrobium sp., Actinomycete sp., Mycobacterium sp., Afipia sp., Acetobacteraceae bacterium, Rhizobium sp., Rhodoplanes sp. and Sphingomonadaceae bacterium. It is interesting to note that planting oil palm on deep peat can assist in rejuvenating some bacterial population that were missing during forest clearing and thus contributing to the improvement of soil bacterial biodiversity.

A PROCESS TO SIMULTANEOUSLY PRODUCE A HIGH DIACYLGLYCEROL OIL AND A CAROTENES-ENRICHED TRIACYLGLYCEROL OIL FROM OIL PALM FRESH FRUIT BUNCHES

Diacylglycerol (DAG) oil has great potential in overcoming the obesity problem and weight-related disorders. This article attempted to produce high DAG oil directly from the oil palm fresh fruit bunches (FFB). The FFB were cut into smaller portions and subjected to different storage conditions. After a fiveday storage, the oil was extracted and partially refined, and then subjected to two stages of multistage short path distillation at a pressure of <10 mTorr and a temperature of >120°C. At the end of these processes, two different oil fractions were obtained, i.e. the final distillate which contained 60 wt% of DAG, and the residual oil which was equivalent to the refined palm oil but enriched with carotenes.

ADSORPTION OF NPK FERTILISER AND HUMIC ACID ON PALM KERNEL SHELL BIOCHAR

To date, no study has been reported on adsorption capacity (Qe) of palm kernel shell (PKS) biochar for plant nutrients NO3 -, NH 4 + , PO4 3- and K+ (NPK) while most biochar adsorption investigations have not considered the effect of dissolved soil organic matter e.g. humic acid (HA). In our study, we produced PKS biochar at different temperatures and holding times and conducted sorption experiments with a commercial NPK fertiliser and HA. HA-coated PKS biochar was investigated for its capability in adsorbing NPK. Equilibrium adsorption experiments showed that NH 4 + and HA were adsorbed with no effect for NO3 – and PO4 3-, while K+ concentration in solution increased exponentially over time. The highest Qe of NH 4 + (0.522 ± 0.036 mg g-1; p<0.05) and that of HA (0.649 ± 0.073 mg g-1) were observed for 400°C PKS biochar. The best-fitted HA sorption with Freundlich isotherm (R2 = 0.904) reveals a heterogeneous surface and arguably multiple layer sorption of HA. A 55.9% reduction in Qe of NH4 + for HA-coated 600°C PKS biochar suggests that performances observed in the laboratory cannot be directly extrapolated to the field. Furthermore, a realistic mechanistic understanding of PKS biochar sorption efficiency on NPK associated with soil matrix components such as humic substances, microorganisms and colloidal clay particles is essential.

PILOT SCALE BIOCHAR PRODUCTION FROM PALM KERNEL SHELL (PKS) IN A FIXED BED ALLOTHERMAL REACTOR

Oil palm biomass wastes such as oil palm fronds (OPF), empty fruit bunches (EFB) and palm kernel shells (PKS) are amongst the most abundantly available agricultural residues in Malaysia. Of these, an average 0.16 t PKS per tonne crude palm oil (CPO) is commonly used in palm oil mills as boiler fuel to generate steam and electricity, while the remaining unused 0.20 t PKS per tonne CPO are often sold as fuel. In order to diversify and add value to the remaining PKS, it is proposed to convert it into biochar to sequester CO2 and improve the productivity of low-fertility soil. In this study, PKS was carbonised under allothermal conditions at various temperatures (400°C to 600°C) and residence times (30 and 60 min) using the biochar experimenters kit (BEK). Biochar yield decreased from 52.1 ± 15.5 wt% at 400°C (30 min) to 33.4 ± 1.4 wt% at 600°C (60 min), while pH, elemental and fixed carbon content increased with temperature and residence time. The VM/FC (0.25 to 0.60) and O/C (0.12 – 0.23) ratios suggest that PKS biochar is an effective carbon sink with a half-life in soil > 100 years.

CARBONISATION-ACTIVATION OF OIL PALM KERNEL SHELL TO PRODUCE ACTIVATED CARBON AND METHYLENE BLUE ADSORPTION KINETICS

The carbonisation-activation system was developed to produce activated carbon from oil palm kernel shell (OPKS). The OPKS was carbonised at 500°C for 3 hr in an electric vertical reactor followed by steaming at 700°C for another 3 hr in the same reactor. The process showed significant results with a high activated carbon yield of 32%, high fixed carbon content of 88.6% with Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface area of 305.67 m2 g-1. The OPKS-activated carbon was further tested to remove methylene blue. It could adsorb up to 99.7% of methylene blue using only 0.6 g litre-1 dosage of OPKS-activated carbon, for 24 hr of treatment time. The results have been correlated in the Freundlich isotherm which was well fitted to the experimental data over the methylene blue experimental concentration range with correlation coefficients of R2=0.992.

PALM OIL MILL EFFLUENT’S MICROBIAL FUEL CELL’S OPTIMISATION PROCEDURE BY USING TWO-LEVEL FACTORIAL DESIGN METHOD AND CHEMICAL OXYGEN DEMAND TREATMENT

Microbial fuel cell (MFC) technologies represent the newest approach for generating electricity (bioelectricity generation) from biomass using bacteria. Bio-electricity generations by MFC have gained considerable attention due to its integration with wastewater treatment. The objectives of the work are to determine the optimisation of MFC’s bio-electrochemical process using three different factors and its interaction, and to determine the optimal pH value for acidogenic, acetogenic and methanogenic by natural mixed culture electroactive bacteria (exoelectrogens) growth in presence and absence of oxygen using MFC. The two-level factorial design is used in order to achieve the main two objectives. The current generation, power generation and maximum power have been monitored. Experimental result shows that the best interaction between these three factors is (-+-) interaction which is the interaction between tryptic soya broth (TSB) , sodium hydroxide as pH controller and resistant of 200 Ω, and the interaction yield the power density of 57.44 mA/m2. The effects between those interactions also have been analysed. The interaction of all parameters that have been used in this experiment is given out the highest significant effect which is a value of effect of 24.56 with a significant F-value of 29.51. The chemical oxygen demand (COD) reduction by MFC treatment data based on the COD effective deduction concept shows that DMP produced lower percentage of COD effective deduction efficiency compared to nDMP. nDMP was 342% to 441% more efficient to deduct COD compared to DMP. nDMP 6.8 recorded the most effective COD deduction by MFC devices at 29.17%.

PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF PALM OIL-BASED SOLID FRACTIONS WITH MORE THAN 20% OF TRIPALMITOYLGLYCEROL FROM MALAYSIAN FRACTIONATION PLANTS

The varied triacylglycerol composition of palm oil-based solid fractions (POSF) gives unique characteristics to its fractions. The potential to develop specific fractions for specific functionalities is very vital to the Malaysian palm oil industry in order to widen the usage of POSF for food formulations. Fractions with higher amounts of trisaturated triacylglycerols are excellent structural fats for food formulations. This compilation was directed towards obtaining the primary information on the characteristics of POSF available in Malaysia containing more than 20% of tripalmitoyl-glycerol. This information will be vital in guiding food formulators on the wide options of structural fats available in Malaysia. Commercially available POSF were collected and characterised. Their triacylglycerol composition, fatty acid composition, iodine value, dropping point, and solid fat content were determined. The results showed that the characteristics of the POSF were greatly influenced by the amount of tripalmitoyl-glycerol (PPP) present in the fractions. The amount of PPP had a substantial impact on the dropping point and the solid fat content profile. Hence, fractions were categorised according to their percentage of PPP to provide groupings with specific physical and chemical characteristics. The percentage of PPP in Group PPP 1 was 20% to 30%, PPP 2 was 40% to 50%, PPP 3 was 55% to 60%, PPP 4 was 62% to 63% and PPP 5 was 67% to 68%. The range of dropping points recorded for PPP 1 was 54°C to 56°C, PPP 2 was 59°C to 60°C, PPP 3 was 61°C to 62°C PPP 4 was 62.2°C to 62.4°C and PPP 5 was 63.1°C to 63.7°C. The range of solid fat content at 30°C recorded for PPP 1 was 44% to 54%, PPP 2 was 78% to 82%, PPP 3 was 86% to 89%, PPP 4 was 90% to 91% and PPP 5 was 91% to 93%. This compilation shows the extensive range of POSF which are able to provide a specific functionality to facilitate their specialised application in food formulations that are commercially available in Malaysia.

PROCESS OPTIMISATION OF 1,3-PROPANEDIOL PRODUCTION BY Klebsiella pneumoniae STRAIN

The 1,3-propanediol (1,3-PD) is a versatile chemical feedstock with a wide range of applications: cosmetic, food and polymers synthesis. Although 1,3-PD is conventionally chemically synthesised, it has drawbacks such as requiring high pressure and temperature. Therefore, a more economical biological approach to produce 1,3-PD is crucial. This study attempted to investigate the effects of common fermentation parameters – temperature, pH, glycerol concentration and inoculum size on the production of 1,3-PD by Klebsiella pneumoniae via one-factor-at-a-time (OFAT) method. The optimised conditions: temperature, 34°C; pH, 7.5; glycerol concentration, 30 g litre-1 and inoculum size, 20% (v/v) showed 1.78-fold increase in 1,3-PD production, i.e. from the initial 4.89 g litre-1 to 8.70 g litre-1 in shake flask experiment after 48 hr. The 1,3- PD productivity by K. pneumoniae was higher (0.18 g litre-1 hr-1) from the unoptimised conditions (0.07 g litre-1 hr-1). The other parameter studied – varying nitrogen sources in the fermentation medium – revealed that their addition unexpectedly did not show any improvement in 1,3-PD production unlike those reported in the literature. It can be concluded that both glycerol concentration and incubation temperature were the most significant factors in producing higher 1,3-PD yield.

SCALE DEPOSITS FROM PALM OIL MILL EFFLUENT (POME) TREATMENT AND VARIOUS OTHER INDUSTRIES: A DEVELOPMENTAL REVIEW –Review Article

The palm oil mill effluent (POME) treatment process is exposed to the formation of crystal-like deposits where their accumulation could create a significant threat to achieving an efficient POME treatment. This article reviewed similar occurrences in other industries, discussed factors influencing the crystal formation and suggested possible solutions to be applied in the oil palm industry. From the review, it was found that crystal deposits have always been a nuisance and sometimes a significant threat to similar industries such as industrial, agricultural and municipal wastewater treatment facilities. Other industries where there is a handling process of certain type of fluids such as heat transfer and oil reservoir drilling fluids also faces similar problems. The article also presented the spectrum of methods for mitigation and removal of the crystal formed. For many cases, nutrient recovery through struvite precipitation has become attractive as it not only reduces crystal growth but at the same time prevents excessive nutrients discharge to the environment. Further exploitation of the recovered struvite as a fertiliser source could possibly generate additional income to the oil palm industry.