How fungi acquire sugar from plants


World population is constantly increasing and food demands to cope with it will have to as well soon. If the trend continues as predicted by 2050 the world food production will need to double to cope with the increasing growing human population [2]. Will we be able to cope with it?

Well it seems that there are some factors that may have an influence on our future predictions, one of them being the creation of a sustainable intensification of world agriculture, as we saw in the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), supported by research and studies that will focus on increasing current productivity of crops by all possible means, including technological innovations and a better understanding of how plant diseases can be better fought and controlled. 

One of the factors that negatively influences crop production are indeed plant diseases. Between 10 and 30% of the global harvest is lost as a consequence of plant diseases [1], a risk that is becoming a threat for global food security [2]. But understanding the biology of plant infection by disease-causing agents, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi is not simple.  Image: See credits under ref. [4] below.


Honey bees self-medicate using plants


Bees have been known to produce some of the best natural products against many ailments, honey. We also heard about propolis, a mixture of resinous products collected by bees from tree buds that was already used by Greeks, Egyptians and others to treat different diseases and actually the source of Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE), a substance derived from Propolis found in honeybee products, has been found able to inhibit growth of breast cancer stem cells. What we didn´t know yet is that bees also used plants, and more exactly plant resins as propolis to treat fungal infections in their colony [1].

The findings have been published in a press release by the North Carolina State University, and only confirms something that Socrates advocated since long time ago, "Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food". Image: See ref. [7] below.

Broccoli and breast cancer


About 50% of cancers in the world today are caused by failures in the regulation of the cell cycle, a cycle that starts with the formation of cells and ends with its apoptosis or programmed cell death. The regulation of this cell cycle is achieved by a protein called p53 (name assigned by its molecular mass). The protein p53 is a natural tumor suppressor and it is in charge of ordering the human cells when they came to an end of life and it's time to die, process known as apoptosis. Image: See credits under reference [7] below.


Family: Brassicaceae

Genus: Brassica

Common name: Broccoli


The best and worst places in the world to eat

The Oxfam food index


Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations working in approximately 94 countries worldwide to find solutions to poverty and what it considers as injustice around the world [1]. Within their mission, Oxfam has helped more than 1,3 million people by bringing food, cash or vouchers to them, enabling also 3,9 million people to join different health promotion activities [1].

As part of their research, Oxfam has gathered data from global data sources, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), capturing aspects of the food market relevant to the statistics and allocating points between the minimum 0 and a maximum of 100 in a ranking that illustrates the best and worst places in the World to eatranking that illustrates the best and worst places in the World to eat. The interactive graphic illustrates how overconsumption, misuse of resources and waste affect each country ranking in the overall scale. Image: See credits under ref. [2] below.


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