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Ruberti I.,National Research Council Italy | Sessa G.,National Research Council Italy | Ciolfi A.,National Research Council Italy | Possenti M.,National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition | And 2 more authors.
Biotechnology Advances

The success of competitive interactions between plants determines the chance of survival of individuals and eventually of whole plant species. Shade-tolerant plants have adapted their photosynthesis to function optimally under low-light conditions. These plants are therefore capable of long-term survival under a canopy shade. In contrast, shade-avoiding plants adapt their growth to perceive maximum sunlight and therefore rapidly dominate gaps in a canopy. Daylight contains roughly equal proportions of red and far-red light, but within vegetation that ratio is lowered as a result of red absorption by photosynthetic pigments. This light quality change is perceived through the phytochrome system as an unambiguous signal of the proximity of neighbors resulting in a suite of developmental responses (termed the shade avoidance response) that, when successful, result in the overgrowth of those neighbors. Shoot elongation induced by low red/far-red light may confer high relative fitness in natural dense communities. However, since elongation is often achieved at the expense of leaf and root growth, shade avoidance may lead to reduction in crop plant productivity. Over the past decade, major progresses have been achieved in the understanding of the molecular basis of shade avoidance. However, uncovering the mechanisms underpinning plant response and adaptation to changes in the ratio of red to far-red light is key to design new strategies to precise modulate shade avoidance in time and space without impairing the overall crop ability to compete for light. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. Source

Acquistucci R.,National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition | Turfani V.,National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition | Aureli G.,Agricultural Research Council
European Food Research and Technology

Eleven barley landraces (Hordeum vulgare L.) grown under the same climatic and soil conditions according to the same organic protocol and corresponding malt samples were considered in this study. In order to assess the modification induced by the mashing process on barley samples cultivated under the same conditions, the enzymatic activity of alpha and beta-amylase was determined in all samples. In addition, the modification induced by the germination process on the protein pattern was also investigated by SDS-PAGE. Barley samples resulted different both in protein content and in amylase quality and quantity; these differences, evidently related to genetic factors, also were found in malt samples. Although two bands at 41-42 kDa and 55-58 kDa were found in the Betamyl extracts analysed by SDS-PAGE, only the 55-58 kDa had discriminating ability, and for this reason, it could be considered in order to evaluate barley suitability for beer production. © 2011 Springer-Verlag. Source

Natella F.,National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition | Scaccini C.,National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition
Nutrition Reviews

Coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This association does not depend on race, gender, geographic distribution of the study populations, or the type of coffee consumed (i.e., caffeinated or decaffeinated). This review discusses the strength of this relationship, examines the possibility that the pattern of coffee consumption could influence the association, and evaluates the possible relationship between coffee consumption and other risk factors associated with diabetes. Particular attention is paid to the identification, on the basis of the scientific evidence, of the possible mechanisms by which coffee components might affect diabetes development, especially in light of the paradoxical effect of caffeine on glucose metabolism. In addition to the role of coffee in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the possible role of coffee in the course of the illness is explored. Finally, the possibility that coffee can also affect the risk of other forms of diabetes (e.g., type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes) is examined. © 2012 International Life Sciences Institute. Source

Natella F.,National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition | MacOne A.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Ramberti A.,National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition | Forte M.,National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition | And 3 more authors.
British Journal of Nutrition

Moderate wine consumption has been shown to lower cardiovascular risk. One of the mechanisms could involve the control of postprandial hyperlipaemia, a well-defined risk factor for atherosclerosis, reasonably by reducing the absorption of lipid oxidised species from the meal. The objective of the present study was to investigate whether wine consumption with the meal is able to reduce the postprandial increase in plasma lipid hydroperoxides and cholesterol oxidation products, in human subjects. In two different study sessions, twelve healthy volunteers consumed the same test meal rich in oxidised and oxidisable lipids (a double cheeseburger), with 300 ml of water (control) or with 300 ml of red wine (wine). The postprandial plasma concentration of cholesterol oxidation products was measured by GCâ€"MS. The control meal induced a significant increase in the plasma concentration of lipid hydroperoxides and of two cholesterol oxidation products, 7-β-hydroxycholesterol and 7-ketocholesterol. The postprandial increase in lipid hydroperoxides and cholesterol oxidation products was fully prevented by wine when consumed with the meal. In conclusion, the present study provides evidence that consumption of wine with the meal could prevent the postprandial increase in plasma cholesterol oxidation products. © 2011 The Authors. Source

Natella F.,National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition | Lorrain B.,National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition | Prasad A.K.,University of Delhi | Parmar V.S.,University of Delhi | And 2 more authors.

The antioxidant activity of eight synthetic 4-methylcoumarins was systematically studied. The antioxidant capacity was measured using: (i) a competition kinetic test, to measure the relative capacity to quench peroxyl radical; (ii) the in vitro oxidative modification of human low-density lipoprotein, initiated by AAPH or catalyzed by copper. In both models, the ortho-OH substitutes were found to be better antioxidant than the meta one. The most efficient antioxidant was the 7,8-dihydroxy-4-methylcoumarin and the corresponding diacetoxy-substituted was unexpectedly a good antioxidant. Finally, the presence of an ethoxycarbonylethyl substituent at the C-3 position increased the antioxidant capacity of both 7,8-dihydroxy-4-methylcoumarin and 7,8-diacetoxy-4-methylcoumarin. © 2010 Elsevier Masson SAS. Source

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