Health benefits of raw garlic vs cooked garlic


Most of the health benefits of garlic are exerted by a bio-active compound called allicin, an active constituent that is curiously not directly present in garlic but produced as a result of activation of alliinase enzyme, this one present in garlic, after crushing, chewing or chopping of raw garlic [1]. Allinase enzyme, released after crushing, chewing or chopping garlic, acts on alliin (S-allyl cysteine sulfoxide) and converts this one into the bio-active compound allicin [3,5].

Allicin is active against many groups of bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Fusobacterium nucleatum and Actinomyces oris among many others [12].

Allicin as well as other dipropenyl thiosulfinates present in garlic (1-propenyl allyl, and allyl 1-propenyl) are completely formed in about 18 seconds at 37 degrees C [10] after crushing, chewing or chopping raw garlic [10]. As we already mentioned the enzyme allinase is responsible for converting alliin (S-allyl cysteine sulfoxide) to allicin, however we neet to take into account that allicin is very unstable and decomposes quickly, being inactivated by heat [3,5] and gastric acids ph. Image: See credits under ref. [11] below. 


Family: Amaryllidaceae

Genus: Allium

Common name: Garlic


Antioxidants improve skin condition


As we already know, antioxidants are naturally occurring substances that are found in nature, in herbs, plants, fruits and vegetables. They play a very important role in our lives, as they are capable by themselves to stop oxidation, a process in which free radicals in our bodies are trying to get the electron they miss from other healthy molecules.

This process, also known as oxidative stress, damages the molecules to which free radicals got coupled, causing several types of damages in our bodies, as weakening and deteriorating our skin, if we talk about skin cells.

But what causes oxidation? Oxidation is nowadays caused by multiple factors, to name some of them we can mention environmental pollution, smoking and UV radiation among many others. Image: See credits under reference [4] below.


Family: Lytraceae

Genus: Punica

Common name: Granada


Will plants replace petrol as new source for plastics?

University research shows how plants could become the new source for plastics, paints and bio engineered medicines


Only in the US about 1,500 plastic bottles are consumed every second, using 17 million petrol barrels each year to produce plastic bottles! [1]. With these figures in mind it is not a surprise to hear that Dutch scientists from Utrecht University, looking for other more ecological sources to produce plastics, have managed to create the basic chemical blocks from which plastic is made, lower olefins, but this time not from petrol but from plants.

Lower olefins are the basic "Lego" building blocks present in plastics, cosmetics and drugs, and are made of two or four carbons produced by steam cracking of crude oil-derived naphtha, however oil reserves are not eternal and other sources for lower olefins were since long ago being investigated.

Utrecht University scientists are closely working with Dow Benelux, a chemical company that has already showed interest in the discovery and who'll probably be able to use such an innovative new technology for the production of organically developed bio-plastics, bio-paints and bio-medicines Image: See credits under ref. [3] below. 


How plants defend against herbivory

Plants respond to leaf vibrations caused by insects


As we know, plants evolved and adapted to improve their survival and reproduction mechanisms in different ways, trying to escape from their biggest threat, herbivores.

Plants have avoided herbivores in many ways, from growing in remote locations, areas where herbivores had difficulties to reach, to letting herbivores eat non-essential parts of the plant, recovering later on from that loss.

The way plants defend from herbivores can be divided in two main types, constitutive (always present in the plant) or induced (produced as a reaction to damage or stress caused by herbivores) [1]. Within the second type of line defense the University of Missouri has now found how plants can chemically defend against herbivores. 


Family: Brassicaceae

Genus: Arabidopsis

Common name: Rockcress.


How plants communicate


Did you ever wonder how plants communicate? Not so long ago we discussed how bacteria used a mechanism called Quorum sensing to communicate between them. Quorum sensing also known as bacterial intracellular communication, is the mechanism by which cells are able to control basic cellular activities and coordinate their actions [1], including the coordinated bacterial attacks in they infect their hosts.

In spite the mechanism in bacterias is quite well known the mechanism in plants wasn't, at least until now. Jim Westwood, a Virginia Tech scientist and professor of plant pathology, physiology and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has discovered how some plants manage to transmit messages and give instructions between them [2]. Image: See credits under ref. [4] below. 


Family: Solanaceae

Genus: Solanum

Common name: Tomato