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Concept: Onion


We carried out a 6-year study to assess the effect of conventional, organic, and mixed cultivation practices on bioactive compounds (flavonoids, anthocyanins) and antioxidant capacity in onion. Total flavonoids, total anthocyanins, individual flavonols, individual anthocyanins, and antioxidant activity were measured in two varieties (‘Hyskin’ and ‘Red Baron’) grown in a long-term split-plot factorial systems comparison trial. This is the first report of repeated measurements of bioactive content over an extensive time period in a single crop type within the same trial. Antioxidant activity (DPPH and FRAP), total flavonol content, and levels of Q 3,4' D and Q 3 G were higher in both varieties under fully organic compared to fully conventional management. Total flavonoids were higher in ‘Red Baron’ and when onions were grown under organic soil treatment. Differences were primarily due to different soil management practices used in organic agriculture rather than pesticide/ herbicide application.

Concepts: Agriculture, Antioxidant, Garlic, Allium, Quercetin, Flavonoid, Flavonols, Onion


Onion and garlic are renowned for their roles as functional foods. The health benefits of garlic are attributed to di-2-propenyl thiosulfinate (allicin), a sulfur compound found in disrupted garlic but not found in disrupted onion. Recently, onions have been grown with repressed lachrymatory factor synthase (LFS) activity, which causes these onions to produce increased amounts of di-1-propenyl thiosulfinate, an isomer of allicin. This investigation into the key health attributes of LFS-silenced (tearless) onions demonstrates that they have some attributes more similar to garlic and that this is likely due to the production of novel thiosulfinate or metabolites. The key finding was that collagen-induced in vitro platelet aggregation was significantly reduced by tearless onion extract over normal onion extract. Thiosulfinate or derived compounds were shown not to be responsible for the observed changes in the inflammatory response of AGS (stomach adenocarcinoma) cells to tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) when pretreated with model onion juices. A preliminary rat feeding trial indicated that the tearless onions may also play a key role in reducing weight gain.

Concepts: Inflammation, Platelet, Garlic, Allium, Tumor necrosis factor-alpha, Onion, Allicin, Tree onion


Onion (Allium cepa L.) is found in various regions of Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa. It is one of the classic examples of Allium species used not only for culinary preparations but also for medicinal purposes. Onion with a variety of purposes is often used as a raw material in many dishes and accepts almost all of the traditions and culture. Owing to its storage characteristics and durability of shipping, onions have been traded more widely than most vegetables. The pungent fractions of garlic are mostly sulfur-containing moieties while its two chemical groups have marked effect on human health. These are flavonoids and ALK (EN)-based cysteine sulfoxides (ACSOs). Compounds in onions have been reported with a range of health benefits, including anticancer properties, antiplatelet activity, antithrombotic activity, antiasthmatic activity, and antibiotic effects.

Concepts: Medicine, Garlic, Allium, Onion, Alliaceae, Bulb, Shallot, Tree onion


Onions (Allium cepa L.) are plagued by a number of bacterial pathogens including Pantoea ananatis, P. agglomerans, Burkholderia cepacia, Enterobacter cloacae, Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. carotovorum, Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. axonopodis and several Pseudomonas spp. We developed a semi-selective medium, termed onion extract medium (OEM), to selectively and rapidly isolate bacteria pathogenic to and associated with onions and onion-related samples including bulbs, seeds, sets, transplant seedlings, soil and water. Most strains of interest grow sufficiently on OEM in 24h at 28°C for tentative identification based on colony morphology, facilitating further characterization by microbiological and/or molecular means.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Pathogen, Garlic, Allium, Onion, Bulb, Shallot


Abstract Advanced glycation endproducts and oxidative stress contribute to the pathogenesis of diabetic complications. The total phenolic content (TPC), antioxidant, and antiglycation properties of crude ethanolic extracts of 10 common culinary herbs and spices from Mauritius were investigated in vitro. Fluorescence at 370 nm/440 nm was used as an index of albumin glycation. Allium sativum had the highest TPC (3.1 mg GAE/mL), whereas Allium cepa L. showed the highest radical scavenging capacity (72%) and Zingiber officinale had the most potent ferric-reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) (2.99 mg AAE/mL). In contrast, Thymus vulgaris and Petroselinum crispum had the most potent antiglycation activity with IC(50) values of 21.8 and 200 mg/mL, respectively. There was no significant correlation between TPC (r=0.001), FRAP (r=0.161), and the antiglycation activity (r=0.034) for the extracts studied. Therefore, the results showed that antiglycation properties of plant-derived extracts cannot always be attributed to their phenolic content or antioxidant potential.

Concepts: Oxidative stress, Oxidative phosphorylation, Garlic, Allium, Ginger, Onion, Spice, Alliaceae


Carbonaceous soil amendments, comprising mixtures of biosolids and biochar, have been demonstrated to improve fertility while reducing nitrate leaching. We aimed to determine the efficacy of a biosolids/biochar soil amendment in biofortification of vegetables with Zn, an element that is deficient in one third of humanity. We grew beetroot (Beta vulgaris), spinach (Spinacia oleracea), radish (Raphanus sativus), broccoli (Brassica oleracea), carrot (Daucus carota), leek (Allium ampeloprsum), onion (Allium cepa), lettuce (Lactuca sativa), corn (Zea mays), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), and courgette (also called zucchini - Cucurbita pepo) in an unamended soil (silt loam, pH5.6), and soil amended (by volume) with 10% biosolids, 20% biochar, and 10% biosolids+20% biochar. The biosolids and biosolids+biochar treatments significantly increased the biomass and Zn concentration of most species, with a large interspecific variation. Beetroot showed the greatest increase, with dry weight Zn concentrations of up to 178 and 1200mgkg(-1) in the bulbs and leaves respectively. Cadmium, Cu and Pb were below guideline levels in all samples, except the leaves of spinach and beetroot, which slightly exceeded the World Health Organisation’s maximum permitted concentration of 0.1mgCdkg(-1) fresh weight. A mixture of biosolids and biochar is an effective means to biofortify crops with edible leaves as well as beetroot with Zn. Future research should investigate the efficacy of the system in other soil types and the role of biochar in the immobilisation/inactivation of organic contaminants and pathogens contained within the biosolids.

Concepts: Fruit, Tomato, Vegetable, Carrot, Brassicaceae, Leaf vegetables, Onion, Cucurbita pepo


The disposal of municipal waste in landfills may pose an environmental problem because the product of the decomposition of these residues generates large volumes of leachate, which may present high toxicity. The aim of this study was to assess the toxic and genotoxic effects of a sample of untreated leachate in fish (Leporinus obtusidens) and onions (Allium cepa). The leachate was collected in a landfill located in the region of Vale do Rio dos Sinos, southern Brazil. The fish were exposed to raw leachate, at concentrations of 0.5%, 1.0%, 5%, 10% and 20% for 6 days, while the bulbs of A. cepa were exposed to concentrations of 5%, 10%, 25%, 50% and 100% for 48 h. For fish, the concentrations of 5%, 10% and 20% were lethal, thus indicating high toxicity; however, sublethal concentrations (0.5% and 1.0%) showed no genotoxicity by micronucleus test when compared with the control group. In the bioassays involving onions, high toxicity was observed, with significant reduction of root growth and mitotic index in bulbs exposed to the 100% concentration of the leachate. An increase in the frequency of chromosome abnormalities in the A. cepa root cells in anaphase-telophase was observed in accordance with the increase in the concentration of leachate (5%, 10%, 25% and 50%), with values significantly greater than the control, at the highest concentration. The results showed that the leachate contains toxic and genotoxic substances, thus representing a major source of environmental pollution if not handled properly.

Concepts: Toxicology, Pollution, Garlic, Allium, Root, Leachate, Landfill, Onion


Root uptake of enteric pathogens and subsequent internalization has been a produce safety concern and is being investigated as a potential route of pre-harvest contamination. The objective of this study was to determine the ability of hepatitis A virus (HAV) and the human norovirus surrogate, murine norovirus (MNV), to internalize in spinach and green onions through root uptake in both soil and hydroponic systems. HAV or MNV was inoculated into soil matrices or into two hydroponic systems, floating and nutrient film technique systems. Viruses present within spinach and green onions were detected by RT-qPCR or infectivity assays after inactivating externally present viruses with Virkon. HAV and MNV were not detected in green onion plants grown up to 20 days and HAV was detected in only 1 of 64 spinach plants grown in contaminated soil substrate systems up to 20 days. Compared to soil systems, a drastic difference in virus internalization was observed in hydroponic systems; HAV or pressure-treated HAV and MNV were internalized up to 4 log RT-qPCR units and internalized MNV was shown to remain infectious. Understanding the interactions of human enteric viruses on produce can aid in the elucidation of the mechanisms of attachment and internalization, and aid in understanding risks associated with contamination events.

Concepts: Hepatitis, Sociology, Soil, Hepatitis A, Onion, Internalization, Hydroponics, Scallion


We describe the synthesis, reactivity, and antithrombotic and anti-angiogenesis activity of difluoroallicin (S-(2-fluoroallyl) 2-fluoroprop-2-ene-1-sulfinothioate) and S-2-fluoro-2-propenyl-l-cysteine, both easily prepared from commercially available 3-chloro-2-fluoroprop-1-ene, as well as the synthesis of 1,2-bis(2-fluoroallyl)disulfane, 5-fluoro-3-(1-fluorovinyl)-3,4-dihydro-1,2-dithiin, trifluoroajoene ((E,Z)-1-(2-fluoro-3-((2-fluoroallyl)sulfinyl)prop-1-en-1-yl)-2-(2-fluoroallyl)disulfane), and a bis(2-fluoroallyl)polysulfane mixture. All tested organosulfur compounds demonstrated effective inhibition of either FGF or VEG-mediated angiogenesis (anti-angiogenesis activity) in the chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) or the mouse Matrigel® models. No embryo mortality was observed. Difluoroallicin demonstrated greater inhibition (p < 0.01) versus organosulfur compounds tested. Difluoroallicin demonstrated dose-dependent inhibition of angiogenesis in the mouse Matrigel® model, with maximal inhibition at 0.01 mg/implant. Allicin and difluoroallicin showed an effective antiplatelet effect in suppressing platelet aggregation compared to other organosulfur compounds tested. In platelet/fibrin clotting (anti-coagulant activity), difluoroallicin showed concentration-dependent inhibition of clot strength compared to allicin and the other organosulfur compounds tested.

Concepts: Platelet, Warfarin, Garlic, Allium, Organosulfur compounds, Onion, Alliaceae, Allicin


The onion lachrymatory factor (LF) is produced from trans-S-1-propenyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide (PRENCSO) through successive reactions catalyzed by alliinase (EC and lachrymatory factor synthase (LFS), and is responsible for the tear inducing-property and the pungency of fresh onions. We developed tearless, non-pungent onions non-transgenically by irradiating seeds with neon-ion at 20 Gy. The bulbs obtained from the irradiated seeds and their offspring bulbs produced by selfing were screened by organoleptic assessment of tear-inducing property or HPLC analysis of LF production. After repeated screening and seed production by selfing, two tearless, non-pungent bulbs were identified in the third generation (M3) bulbs. Twenty M4 bulbs obtained from each of them showed no tear-inducing property or pungency when evaluated by 20 sensory panelists. The LF production levels in these bulbs were approximately 7.5-fold lower than those of the normal onion. The low LF production levels were due to reduction in alliinase activity, which was a result of low alliinase mRNA expression (less than 1% of that in the normal onion) and consequent low amounts of the alliinase protein. These tearless, non-pungent onions should be welcomed by all who tear while chopping onions and those who work in facilities where fresh onions are processed.

Concepts: Messenger RNA, Garlic, Allium, Tears, Onion, Bulb, Allicin, Tree onion