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Concept: Almond


To assess the effect of consuming a mid-morning almond snack (28 and 42 g) tested against a negative control of no almonds on acute satiety responses.

Concepts: Scientific control, Nutrition, Snack foods, Nut, Almond, Food and drink


A number of herbal products with anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antimycotic properties are available for dermatological usage. The successful treatment of 13 sheep affected by ringworm due to Trichophyton mentagrophytes with a mixture consisting of essential oils (EOs) of Thymus serpillum 2%, Origanum vulgare 5% and Rosmarinus officinalis 5% in sweet almond (Prunus dulcis) oil. The effectiveness of EOs and of the major components of the mixture (thymol, carvacrol, 1,8 cineole, α-pinene, p-cymene, γ-terpinene) against the fungal clinical isolate was evaluated by a microdilution test. Thirteen animals were topically administered with the mixture twice daily for 15 days. The other sheep were administered with a conventional treatment (seven animals) or left untreated (two animals). Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values were 0.1% for T. serpillum, 0.5% for O. vulgare, 2.5% for I. verum and 5% for both R. officinalis and C. limon. Thymol and carvacrol showed MICs of 0.125% and 0.0625%. A clinical and aetiological cure was obtained at the end of each treatment regimen in only the treated animals. Specific antimycotic drugs licenced for food-producing sheep are not available within the European Community. The mixture tested here appeared to be a versatile tool for limiting fungal growth.

Concepts: Medicine, Lamiaceae, Medicinal plants, Essential oil, Almond, Oregano, Origanum, Marjoram


The tyrosine-derived cyanogenic di-glucoside proteacin and related mono-glucoside dhurrin were identified as the cyanogens in foliage of the tropical tree species Polyscias australiana, present in the approximate ratio 9:1. To date cyanogenic glycosides have not been characterised from the Araliaceae or the Apiales. Concentrations of cyanogenic glycosides varied significantly between plant parts and with leaf age, with the highest concentrations in young emerging leaves (mean 2217.1μgCNg(-1) dry wt), petioles (rachis; 1487.1μgCNg(-1) dry wt) and floral buds (265.8μgCNg(-1) dry wt). Between 2% and 10% of nitrogen in emerging leaves and petioles was present as cyanogenic glycosides. With the exception of floral buds, all tissues apparently lack a specific cyanogenic β-glucosidase to catalyse the first step in the breakdown of these cyanogenic glycosides. Only with the addition of emulsin, an exogenous non-specific β-glucosidase from almonds, were high concentrations of cyanogenic glycosides detected, as much as 20-fold greater than the low to negligible cyanogenic glycoside concentrations determined in the absence of exogenous enzyme. High concentrations of cyanogens in young tissues may confer protection, but may also be a nitrogen source during leaf expansion.

Concepts: Cyanide, Glycoside, Leaf, Plant morphology, Almond, Rhubarb, Cardiac glycoside


Many crops are ill-protected against insect pests during storage. To protect cereal grains from herbivores during storage, pesticides are often applied. While pesticides have an undoubtable functionality, increasing concerns are arising about their application. In the present study, we investigated a bioinspired cyanogenic grain coating with amygdalin as cyanogenic precursor mimicking the feeding-triggered release of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) found for example in bitter almonds. The multilayer coating consisted of biodegradable polylactic acid with individual layers containing amygdalin or β-glucosidase which is capable of degrading amygdalin to HCN. This reaction occurred only when the layers were ruptured, e.g., by a herbivore attack. Upon feeding coated cyanogenic wheat grains to Tenebrio molitor (mealworm beetle), Rhizopertha dominica (lesser grain borer), and Plodia interpunctella (Indianmeal moth), their reproduction as well as consumption rate were significantly reduced, whereas germination ability increased compared to noncoated grains. In field experiments, we observed an initial growth delay compared to uncoated grains which became negligible at later growth stages. The here shown strategy to artificially apply a naturally occurring defense mechanisms could be expanded to other crops than wheat and has the potential to replace certain pesticides with the benefit of complete biodegradability and increased safety during storage.

Concepts: Cyanide, Wheat, Cereal, Herbivore, Pest insects, Bioplastic, Almond, Hydrogen cyanide


Striae gravidarum (SG), or stretch marks developing during pregnancy, affect up to 90% of women. While not medically dangerous, SG can be disfiguring, causing emotional and psychological distress. However, studies specifically addressing the prevention of SG, especially during pregnancy, are sparse. Furthermore, the molecular pathogenesis of SG is unclear and may differ from that of striae from other causes. Considering these factors, we review topical modalities that have been used specifically for preventing SG during pregnancy. We identify two major strategies (endpoints) for these modalities, including 1) preventing the de novo development of SG, and 2) reducing the severity of SG that have recently developed. We also identify risk factors for the development of SG and suggest that pregnant women with these risk factors are an appropriate target population for prevention. In reviewing the literature, we find that there is limited evidence that centella and possibly massage with bitter almond oil may prevent SG and/or reduce their severity. There is weak evidence that hyaluronic acid prevents SG. Tretinoin holds promise for reducing the severity of new-onset SG, but its use is limited by its pregnancy category. Finally, cocoa butter and olive oil are not effective for preventing SG or reducing the severity of lesions. We conclude that reliable methods for preventing SG are scarce. Furthermore, available topical modalities generally lack strong evidence from rigorous, well-designed, randomized controlled trials with ample numbers of subjects. Thus, further research is necessary to better elucidate SG pathogenesis, which may lead to effective prevention modalities. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Randomized controlled trial, Obstetrics, Prevention, Copyright, Almond, Stretch marks, Cocoa butter


The cultivated/domesticated peach (Prunus persica var. persica; Rosaceae, subgenus Amygdalus; synonym: Amygdalus persica) originated in China, but its wild ancestor, as well as where, when, and under what circumstances the peach was domesticated, is poorly known. Five populations of archaeological peach stones recovered from Zhejiang Province, China, document peach use and evolution beginning ca. 8000 BP. The majority of the archaeological sites from which the earliest peach stones have been recovered are from the Yangzi River valley, indicating that this is where early selection for favorable peach varieties likely took place. Furthermore, peach stone morphology through time is consistent with the hypothesis that an unknown wild P. persica was the ancestor of the cultivated peach. The oldest archaeological peach stones are from the Kuahuqiao (8000-7000 BP) and Tianluoshan (7000-6500 BP) sites and both stone samples segregate into two size groups, suggesting early selection of preferred types. The first peach stones in China most similar to modern cultivated forms are from the Liangzhu culture (ca. 5300 to 4300 BP), where the peach stones are significantly larger and more compressed than earlier stones. Similar peach stones are reported from Japan much earlier (6700-6400 BP). This large, compressed-stone peach was introduced to Japan and indicates a yet unidentified source population in China that was similar to the Liangzhu culture peach. This study proposes that the lower Yangzi River valley is a region, if not the region, of early peach selection and domestication and that the process began at least 7500 years ago.

Concepts: Prunus, Peach, Rosaceae, Almond, Apricot, Plum, Hangzhou, Prunoideae


The modification of microbiota composition to a ‘beneficial’ one is a promising approach for improving intestinal as well as overall health. Natural fibres and phytochemicals that reach the proximal colon, such as those present in various nuts, provide substrates for the maintenance of healthy and diverse microbiota. The effects of increased consumption of specific nuts, which are rich in fibre as well as various phytonutrients, on human gut microbiota composition have not been investigated to date. The objective of the present study was to determine the effects of almond and pistachio consumption on human gut microbiota composition. We characterised microbiota in faecal samples collected from volunteers in two separate randomised, controlled, cross-over feeding studies (n 18 for the almond feeding study and n 16 for the pistachio feeding study) with 0, 1·5 or 3 servings/d of the respective nuts for 18 d. Gut microbiota composition was analysed using a 16S rRNA-based approach for bacteria and an internal transcribed spacer region sequencing approach for fungi. The 16S rRNA sequence analysis of 528 028 sequence reads, retained after removing low-quality and short-length reads, revealed various operational taxonomic units that appeared to be affected by nut consumption. The effect of pistachio consumption on gut microbiota composition was much stronger than that of almond consumption and included an increase in the number of potentially beneficial butyrate-producing bacteria. Although the numbers of bifidobacteria were not affected by the consumption of either nut, pistachio consumption appeared to decrease the number of lactic acid bacteria (P< 0·05). Increasing the consumption of almonds or pistachios appears to be an effective means of modifying gut microbiota composition.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Ribosomal RNA, Effect, Fiber, Lactic acid, Lactobacillus, Almond


Insect-pollinated crops provide important nutrients for human health. Pollination, water and nutrients available to crops can influence yield, but it is not known if the nutritional value of the crop is also influenced. Almonds are an important source of critical nutrients for human health such as unsaturated fat and vitamin E. We manipulated the pollination of almond trees and the resources available to the trees, to investigate the impact on the nutritional composition of the crop. The pollination treatments were: (a) exclusion of pollinators to initiate self-pollination and (b) hand cross-pollination; the plant resource treatments were: © reduced water and (d) no fertilizer. In an orchard in northern California, trees were exposed to a single treatment or a combination of two (one pollination and one resource). Both the fat and vitamin E composition of the nuts were highly influenced by pollination. Lower proportions of oleic to linoleic acid, which are less desirable from both a health and commercial perspective, were produced by the self-pollinated trees. However, higher levels of vitamin E were found in the self-pollinated nuts. In some cases, combined changes in pollination and plant resources sharpened the pollination effects, even when plant resources were not influencing the nutrients as an individual treatment. This study highlights the importance of insects as providers of cross-pollination for fruit quality that can affect human health, and, for the first time, shows that other environmental factors can sharpen the effect of pollination. This contributes to an emerging field of research investigating the complexity of interactions of ecosystem services affecting the nutritional value and commercial quality of crops.

Concepts: Health, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Plant, Essential nutrient, Pollination, Pollination management, Almond


Cyanogenic glycosides are a large group of secondary metabolites that are widely distributed in the plant kingdom, including many plants that are commonly consumed by humans. The diverse chemical nature of cyanogenic glycosides means that extraction and analysis of individual compounds can be difficult. In addition, degradation can be rapid under appropriate conditions. Amygdalin is one of the cyanogenic glycosides found, for example, in apples, apricots and almonds. We have developed and applied a high performance liquid chromatographic procedure for amygdalin quantification to investigate extraction efficiency and to determine levels in a range of commercially-available foods for the first time. Our results show that seed from Rosaceae species contained relatively high amounts (range 0.1-17.5 mg g(-1)) of amygdalin compared to seed from non-Rosaceae species (range 0.01-0.2 mg g(-1)). The amygdalin content of processed food products was very low.

Concepts: Plant, Fruit, Glycoside, Seed, Peach, Apple, Almond, Apricot


Pollination is critical to fruit production, but the interactions of pollination with plant resources on a plant’s reproductive and vegetative features are largely overlooked. We examined the influences of pollination, irrigation and fertilisation on the performance of almond, Prunus dulcis, in northern California. We used a full-factorial design to test for the effects of pollination limitation on fruit production and foliage variables of whole trees experiencing four resource treatments: (i) normal water and nutrients, (ii) reduced water, (iii) no nutrients, and (iv) reduced water and no nutrients. In each of these combinations, we applied three pollination treatments: hand-cross pollination, open-pollination and pollinator exclusion. Pollination strongly affected yield even under reduced water and no nutrient applications. Hand-cross pollination resulted in over 50% fruit set with small kernels, while open-pollinated flowers showed over 30% fruit set with moderate-sized kernels. Pollinator-excluded flowers had a maximum fruit set of 5%, with big and heavy kernels. Reduced water interacted with the open- and hand-cross pollination treatments, reducing yield more than in the pollinator exclusion treatment. The number of kernels negatively influenced the number of leaves, and reduced water and no nutrient applications interacted with the pollination treatments. Overall, our results indicate that the influences of pollination on fruit tree yield interact with the plant availability of nutrients and water and that excess pollination can reduce fruit quality and the production of leaves for photosynthesis. Such information is critical to understand how pollination influences fruit tree performance.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Plant, Nitrogen, Fruit, Pollination, Seed, Plant morphology, Almond