Castor bean (Ricinus communis) is an oil crop that belongs to the spurge (Euphorbiaceae) family. Its seeds are the source of castor oil, used for the production of high-quality lubricants due to its high proportion of the unusual fatty acid ricinoleic acid. Castor bean seeds also produce ricin, a highly toxic ribosome inactivating protein, making castor bean relevant for biosafety. We report here the 4.6X draft genome sequence of castor bean, representing the first reported Euphorbiaceae genome sequence. Our analysis shows that most key castor oil metabolism genes are single-copy while the ricin gene family is larger than previously thought. Comparative genomics analysis suggests the presence of an ancient hexaploidization event that is conserved across the dicotyledonous lineage.
Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz), a starchy root crop grown in tropical and subtropical climates, is the sixth most important crop in the world after wheat, rice, maize, potato and barley. The repertoire of simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers for cassava is limited and warrants a need for a larger number of polymorphic SSRs for germplasm characterization and breeding applications.
A total of 846 putative microsatellites were identified in silico from an 8,577 cassava unigene set with an average density of one SSR every 7 kb. One hundred and ninety-two candidate SSRs were screened for polymorphism among a panel of cassava cultivars from Africa, Latin America and Asia, four wild Manihot species as well as two other important taxa in the Euphorbiaceae, leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) and castor bean (Ricinus communis). Of 168 markers with clean amplification products, 124 (73.8%) displayed polymorphism based on high resolution agarose gels. Of 85 EST-SSR markers screened, 80 (94.1%) amplified alleles from one or more wild species (M epruinosa, M glaziovii, M brachyandra, M tripartita) whereas 13 (15.3%) amplified alleles from castor bean and 9 (10.6%) amplified alleles from leafy spurge; hence nearly all markers were transferable to wild relatives of M esculenta while only a fraction was transferable to the more distantly related taxa. In a subset of 20 EST-SSRs assessed by fluorescence-based genotyping the number of alleles per locus ranged from 2 to 10 with an average of 4.55 per locus. These markers had a polymorphism information content (PIC) from 0.19 to 0.75 with an average value of 0.55 and showed genetic relationships consistent with existing information on these genotypes.
A set of 124 new, unique polymorphic EST-SSRs was developed and characterized which extends the repertoire of SSR markers for cultivated cassava and its wild relatives. The markers show high PIC values and therefore will be useful for cultivar identification, taxonomic studies, and genetic mapping. The study further shows that mining ESTs is a highly efficient strategy for polymorphism detection within the cultivated cassava gene pool.
The allergenicity of Ricinus communis L. (castor bean, Euphorbiaceae) is associated with components of its seeds and pollen. Castor bean allergy has been described not only in laboratory workers, but also in personnel working in oil processing mills, fertilizer retail, the upholstery industry and other industrial fields. In the present study, we describe the critical amino acids in the IgE-binding epitopes in Ric c 1 and Ric c 3, two major allergens of R. communis. In addition, we also investigate the cross-reactivity between castor bean and some air and food allergen extracts commonly used in allergy diagnosis.
The IgE reactivity of human sera from atopic patients was screened by immune-dot blot against castor bean allergens. Allergenic activity was evaluated in vitro using a rat mast cell activation assay and by ELISA. Cross-reactivity was observed between castor bean allergens and extracts from shrimp, fish, gluten, wheat, soybean, peanut, corn, house dust, tobacco and airborne fungal allergens. We observed that treatment of rat and human sera (from atopic patients) with glutamic acid reduced the IgE-epitope interaction.
The identification of glutamic acid residues with critical roles in IgE-binding to Ric c 3 and Ric c 1 support the potential use of free amino acids in allergy treatment.
Ricinus communis is an industrially important non-edible oil seed crop, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Although, R. communis genome was assembled in 4X draft by JCVI, and is predicted to contain 31,221 proteins, the function of most of the genes remains to be elucidated. A large amount of information of different aspects of the biology of R. communis is available, but most of the data are scattered one not easily accessible. Therefore a comprehensive resource on Castor, Castor DB, is required to facilitate research on this important plant.
CastorDB is a specialized and comprehensive database for the oil seed plant R. communis, integrating information from several diverse resources. CastorDB contains information on gene and protein sequences, gene expression and gene ontology annotation of protein sequences obtained from a variety of repositories, as primary data. In addition, computational analysis was used to predict cellular localization, domains, pathways, protein-protein interactions, sumoylation sites and biochemical properties and has been included as derived data. This database has an intuitive user interface that prompts the user to explore various possible information resources available on a given gene or a protein.
CastorDB provides a user friendly comprehensive resource on castor with particular emphasis on its genome, transcriptome, and proteome and on protein domains, pathways, protein localization, presence of sumoylation sites, expression data and protein interacting partners.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenously encoded small RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression and play essential roles in numerous developmental and physiological processes. Currently, little information on the transcriptome and tissue-specific expression of miRNAs is available in the model non-edible oilseed crop castor bean (Ricinus communis L.), one of the most important non-edible oilseed crops cultivated worldwide. Recent advances in sequencing technologies have allowed the identification of conserved and novel miRNAs in many plant species. Here, we used high-throughput sequencing technologies to identify and characterize the miRNAs in castor bean.
Five small RNA libraries were constructed for deep sequencing from root tips, leaves, developing seeds (at the initial stage, seed1; and at the fast oil accumulation stage, seed2) and endosperms in castor bean. High-throughput sequencing generated a large number of sequence reads of small RNAs in this study. In total, 86 conserved miRNAs were identified, including 63 known and 23 newly identified. Sixteen miRNA isoform variants in length were found from the conserved miRNAs of castor bean. MiRNAs displayed diverse organ-specific expression levels among five libraries. Combined with criteria for miRNA annotation and a RT-PCR approach, 72 novel miRNAs and their potential precursors were annotated and 20 miRNAs newly identified were validated. In addition, new target candidates for miRNAs newly identified in this study were proposed.
The current study presents the first high-throughput small RNA sequencing study performed in castor bean to identify its miRNA population. It characterizes and increases the number of miRNAs and their isoforms identified in castor bean. The miRNA expression analysis provides a foundation for understanding castor bean miRNA organ-specific expression patterns. The present study offers an expanded picture of miRNAs for castor bean and other members in the family Euphorbiaceae.
Intercropping is one of the important cultural practices in pest management and is based on the principle of reducing insect pests by increasing the diversity of an ecosystem. On—farm experiments were conducted in villages of semi—arid tropical (SAT) India to identify the appropriate combination of castor (Ricinus communis L.) (Malpighiales: Euphorbiaceae) and intercropping in relation to pest incidence. The diversity created by introducing cluster bean, cowpea, black gram, or groundnut as intercrops in castor (1:2 ratio proportions) resulted in reduction of incidence of insect pests, namely semilooper (Achaea janata L.), leaf hopper (Empoasca flavescens Fabricius), and shoot and capsule borer (Conogethes punctiferalis Guenee). A buildup of natural enemies (Microplitis, coccinellids, and spiders) of the major pests of castor was also observed in these intercropping systems and resulted in the reduction of insect pests. Further, these systems were more efficient agronomically and economically, and were thus more profitable than a castor monocrop.
cultural practices; ecosystem diversity; natural enemies; agronomical evaluation; gross margin
Castor bean is an important oil-producing plant in the Euphorbiaceae family. Its high-quality oil contains up to 90% of the unusual fatty acid ricinoleate, which has many industrial and medical applications. Castor bean seeds also contain ricin, a highly toxic Type 2 ribosome-inactivating protein, which has gained relevance in recent years due to biosafety concerns. In order to gain knowledge on global genetic diversity in castor bean and to ultimately help the development of breeding and forensic tools, we carried out an extensive chloroplast sequence diversity analysis. Taking advantage of the recently published genome sequence of castor bean, we assembled the chloroplast and mitochondrion genomes extracting selected reads from the available whole genome shotgun reads. Using the chloroplast reference genome we used the methylation filtration technique to readily obtain draft genome sequences of 7 geographically and genetically diverse castor bean accessions. These sequence data were used to identify single nucleotide polymorphism markers and phylogenetic analysis resulted in the identification of two major clades that were not apparent in previous population genetic studies using genetic markers derived from nuclear DNA. Two distinct sub-clades could be defined within each major clade and large-scale genotyping of castor bean populations worldwide confirmed previously observed low levels of genetic diversity and showed a broad geographic distribution of each sub-clade.
Ricinus communis L. is of great economic importance due to the oil extracted from its seeds. Castor oil has been used for pharmaceutical and industrial applications, as a lubricant or coating agent, as a component of plastic products, as a fungicide or in the synthesis of biodiesel fuels. After oil extraction, a castor cake with a large amount of protein is obtained. However, this by-product cannot be used as animal feed due to the presence of toxic (ricin) and allergenic (2S albumin) proteins. Here, we propose two processes for detoxification and allergen inactivation of the castor cake. In addition, we establish a biological test to detect ricin and validate these detoxification processes. In this test, Vero cells were treated with ricin, and cell death was assessed by cell counting and measurement of lactate dehydrogenase activity. The limit of detection of the Vero cell assay was 10 ng/mL using a concentration of 1.6 × 105 cells/well. Solid-state fermentation (SSF) and treatment with calcium compounds were used as cake detoxification processes. For SSF, Aspergillus niger was grown using a castor cake as a substrate, and this cake was analyzed after 24, 48, 72, and 96 h of SSF. Ricin was eliminated after 24 h of SSF treatment. The cake was treated with 4 or 8% Ca(OH)2 or CaO, and both the toxicity and the allergenic properties were entirely abolished. A by-product free of toxicity and allergens was obtained.
Ricinus communis; 2S albumin; Ricin; Biodiesel fuel; Solid-state fermentation; Vero cells
Storage triacylglycerols in castor bean seeds are enriched in the hydroxylated fatty acid ricinoleate. Extensive tissue-specific RNA-Seq transcriptome and lipid analysis will help identify components important for its biosynthesis.
Storage triacylglycerols (TAGs) in the endosperm of developing castor (Ricinus communis) seeds are highly enriched in ricinoleic acid (18:1-OH). We have analysed neutral lipid fractions from other castor tissues using TLC, GLC and mass spectrometry. Cotyledons, like the endosperm, contain high levels of 18:1-OH in TAG. Pollen and male developing flowers accumulate TAG but do not contain 18:1-OH and leaves do not contain TAG or 18:1-OH. Analysis of acyl-CoAs in developing endosperm shows that ricinoleoyl-CoA is not the dominant acyl-CoA, indicating that either metabolic channelling or enzyme substrate selectivity are important in the synthesis of tri-ricinolein in this tissue. RNA-Seq transcriptomic analysis, using Illumina sequencing by synthesis technology, has been performed on mRNA isolated from two stages of developing seeds, germinating seeds, leaf and pollen-producing male flowers in order to identify differences in lipid-metabolic pathways and enzyme isoforms which could be important in the biosynthesis of TAG enriched in 18:1-OH. This study gives comprehensive coverage of gene expression in a variety of different castor tissues. The potential role of differentially expressed genes is discussed against a background of proteins identified in the endoplasmic reticulum, which is the site of TAG biosynthesis, and transgenic studies aimed at increasing the ricinoleic acid content of TAG.
Several of the genes identified in this tissue-specific whole transcriptome study have been used in transgenic plant research aimed at increasing the level of ricinoleic acid in TAG. New candidate genes have been identified which might further improve the level of ricinoleic acid in transgenic crops.
Castor bean and Jatropha contain seed oil of industrial importance, share taxonomical and biochemical similarities, which can be explored for identifying SSRs in the whole genome sequence of castor bean and utilized in Jatropha curcas. Whole genome analysis of castor bean identified 5,80,986 SSRs with a frequency of 1 per 680 bp. Genomic distribution of SSRs revealed that 27% were present in the non-genic region whereas 73% were also present in the putative genic regions with 26% in 5′UTRs, 25% in introns, 16% in 3′UTRs and 6% in the exons. Dinucleotide repeats were more frequent in introns, 5′UTRs and 3′UTRs whereas trinucleotide repeats were predominant in the exons. The transferability of randomly selected 302 SSRs, from castor bean to 49 J. curcas genotypes and 8 Jatropha species other than J. curcas, showed that 211 (∼70%) amplified on Jatropha out of which 7.58% showed polymorphisms in J. curcas genotypes and 12.32% in Jatropha species. The higher rate of transferability of SSR markers from castor bean to Jatropha coupled with a good level of PIC (polymorphic information content) value (0.2 in J. curcas genotypes and 0.6 in Jatropha species) suggested that SSRs would be useful in germplasm analysis, linkage mapping, diversity studies and phylogenetic relationships, and so forth, in J. curcas as well as other Jatropha species.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are ∼21 nt non-coding RNAs which regulate post-transcriptional gene expression. miRNAs are key regulators of nearly all essential biological processes. Aiming at understanding miRNA’s functions in Euphorbiaceae, a large flowering plant family, we performed a genome-scale systematic study of miRNAs in Euphorbiaceae, by combining computational prediction and experimental analysis to overcome the difficulty of lack of genomes for most Euphorbiaceous species. Specifically, we predicted 85 conserved miRNAs in 23 families in the Castor bean (Ricinus communis), and experimentally verified and characterized 58 (68.2%) of the 85 miRNAs in at least one of four Euphorbiaceous species, the Castor bean, the Cassava (Manihot esculenta), the Rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) and the Jatropha (Jatropha curcas) during normal seedling development. To elucidate their function in stress response, we verified and profiled 48 (56.5%) of the 85 miRNAs under cold and drought stresses as well as during the processes of stress recovery. The results revealed some species- and condition-specific miRNA expression patterns. Finally, we predicted 258 miRNA:target partners, and identified the cleavage sites of six out of ten miRNA targets by a modified 5′ RACE. This study produced the first collection of miRNAs and their targets in Euphorbiaceae. Our results revealed wide conservation of many miRNAs and diverse functions in Euphorbiaceous plants during seedling growth and in response to abiotic stresses.
Castor bean (Ricinus communis) is an agricultural crop and garden ornamental that is widely cultivated and has been introduced worldwide. Understanding population structure and the distribution of castor bean cultivars has been challenging because of limited genetic variability. We analyzed the population genetics of R. communis in a worldwide collection of plants from germplasm and from naturalized populations in Florida, U.S. To assess genetic diversity we conducted survey sequencing of the genomes of seven diverse cultivars and compared the data to a reference genome assembly of a widespread cultivar (Hale). We determined the population genetic structure of 676 samples using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at 48 loci.
Bayesian clustering indicated five main groups worldwide and a repeated pattern of mixed genotypes in most countries. High levels of population differentiation occurred between most populations but this structure was not geographically based. Most molecular variance occurred within populations (74%) followed by 22% among populations, and 4% among continents. Samples from naturalized populations in Florida indicated significant population structuring consistent with local demes. There was significant population differentiation for 56 of 78 comparisons in Florida (pairwise population ϕPT values, p < 0.01).
Low levels of genetic diversity and mixing of genotypes have led to minimal geographic structuring of castor bean populations worldwide. Relatively few lineages occur and these are widely distributed. Our approach of determining population genetic structure using SNPs from genome-wide comparisons constitutes a framework for high-throughput analyses of genetic diversity in plants, particularly in species with limited genetic diversity.
Castor seeds are a major source for ricinoleate, an important industrial raw material. Genomics studies of castor plant will provide critical information for understanding seed metabolism, for effectively engineering ricinoleate production in transgenic oilseeds, or for genetically improving castor plants by eliminating toxic and allergic proteins in seeds.
Full-length cDNAs are useful resources in annotating genes and in providing functional analysis of genes and their products. We constructed a full-length cDNA library from developing castor endosperm, and obtained 4,720 ESTs from 5'-ends of the cDNA clones representing 1,908 unique sequences. The most abundant transcripts are genes encoding storage proteins, ricin, agglutinin and oleosins. Several other sequences are also very numerous, including two acidic triacylglycerol lipases, and the oleate hydroxylase (FAH12) gene that is responsible for ricinoleate biosynthesis. The role(s) of the lipases in developing castor seeds are not clear, and co-expressing of a lipase and the FAH12 did not result in significant changes in hydroxy fatty acid accumulation in transgenic Arabidopsis seeds. Only one oleate desaturase (FAD2) gene was identified in our cDNA sequences. Sequence and functional analyses of the castor FAD2 were carried out since it had not been characterized previously. Overexpression of castor FAD2 in a FAH12-expressing Arabidopsis line resulted in decreased accumulation of hydroxy fatty acids in transgenic seeds.
Our results suggest that transcriptional regulation of FAD2 and FAH12 genes maybe one of the mechanisms that contribute to a high level of ricinoleate accumulation in castor endosperm. The full-length cDNA library will be used to search for additional genes that affect ricinoleate accumulation in seed oils. Our EST sequences will also be useful to annotate the castor genome, which whole sequence is being generated by shotgun sequencing at the Institute for Genome Research (TIGR).
The tropical armyworm, Spodoptera litura (F.) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), is an important pest of tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum L. (Solanales: Solanaceae), in South China that is becoming increasingly resistant to pesticides. Six potential trap crops were evaluated to control S. litura on tobacco. Castor bean, Ricinus communis L. (Malpighiales: Euphorbiaceae), and taro, Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott (Alismatales: Araceae), hosted significantly more S. litura than peanut, Arachis hypogaea L. (Fabales: Fabaceae), sweet potato, Ipomoea batata Lam. (Solanales: Convolvulaceae) or tobacoo in a greenhouse trial, and tobacco field plots with taro rows hosted significantly fewer S. litura than those with rows of other trap crops or without trap crops, provided the taro was in a fast-growing stage. When these crops were grown along with eggplant, Solanum melongena L. (Solanales: Solanaceae), and soybean, Glycines max L. (Fabales: Fabaceae), in separate plots in a randomized matrix, tobacco plots hosted more S. litura than the other crop plots early in the season, but late in the season, taro plots hosted significantly more S. litura than tobacco, soybean, sweet potato, peanut or eggplant plots. In addition, higher rates of S. litura parasitism by Microplitis prodeniae Rao and Chandry (Hymenoptera: Bracondidae) and Campoletis chlorideae Uchida (Ichnumonidae) were observed in taro plots compared to other crop plots. Although taro was an effective trap crop for managing S. litura on tobacco, it did not attract S. litura in the seedling stage, indicating that taro should either be planted 20–30 days before tobacco, or alternative control methods should be employed during the seedling stage.
Colocasia esculenta; cultural control; trap crop; oviposition preference; attraction
Aqueous and organic (hexane, chloroform, and methanol) extracts of siliquae, stems and leaves, and seeds of Cleome arabica L. (Brassicales: Capparidaceae) were evaluated in the laboratory for their antifeeding and insecticidal effect on larvae of the cotton leafworm, Spodoptera littoralis (Boisduval) (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae), using a leaf dipping bioassay with castor bean, Ricinus communis L. (Malpighiales: Euphorbiaceae), leaf discs. The polar extracts caused significant mortality. At the highest dose, C. arabica extracts exhibited significant antifeeding and phagostimulating activities against S. littoralis larvae. Under no-choice conditions, the methanol extract of siliquae was the most active, and the antifeedant index calculated over 24 hr for 3rd instar larvae varied significantly from 16 to 37%. Using nutritional indices, it was established that there was a significant decrease in growth rate concomitant with a reduction in consumption. These results suggest the presence of anti-feeding and/or toxic substances in the extracts that may be useful in developing bio-insecticides based on C. arabica extracts for use in integrated pest management of leafworm and other agricultural pests.
antifeeding; bio-inesceticides; botanicals extracts; nutritional indices; toxicity
Accidental and intended Ricinus communis intoxications in humans and animals have been known for centuries but the causative agent remained elusive until 1888 when Stillmark attributed the toxicity to the lectin ricin. Ricinus communis is grown worldwide on an industrial scale for the production of castor oil. As by-product in castor oil production ricin is mass produced above 1 million tons per year. On the basis of its availability, toxicity, ease of preparation and the current lack of medical countermeasures, ricin has gained attention as potential biological warfare agent. The seeds also contain the less toxic, but highly homologous Ricinus communis agglutinin and the alkaloid ricinine, and especially the latter can be used to track intoxications. After oil extraction and detoxification, the defatted press cake is used as organic fertilizer and as low-value feed. In this context there have been sporadic reports from different countries describing animal intoxications after uptake of obviously insufficiently detoxified fertilizer. Observations in Germany over several years, however, have led us to speculate that the detoxification process is not always performed thoroughly and controlled, calling for international regulations which clearly state a ricin threshold in fertilizer. In this review we summarize knowledge on intended and unintended poisoning with ricin or castor seeds both in humans and animals, with a particular emphasis on intoxications due to improperly detoxified castor bean meal and forensic analysis.
ricin; poisoning; animal intoxication; human intoxication; fertilizer
Ricin is a heterodimeric plant protein that is potently toxic to mammalian and many other eukaryotic cells. It is synthesized and stored in the endosperm cells of maturing Ricinus communis seeds (castor beans). The ricin family has two major members, both, lectins, collectively known as Ricinus communis agglutinin ll (ricin) and Ricinus communis agglutinin l (RCA). These proteins are stored in vacuoles within the endosperm cells of mature Ricinus seeds and they are rapidly broken down by hydrolysis during the early stages of post-germinative growth. Both ricin and RCA traffic within the plant cell from their site of synthesis to the storage vacuoles, and when they intoxicate mammalian cells they traffic from outside the cell to their site of action. In this review we will consider both of these trafficking routes.
ricin biosynthesis; anterograde transport; retrograde transport; endoplasmic reticulum; retrotranslocation
This study employs transcript profiling together with immunoblotting and co-immunopurification to assess the tissue-specific expression, protein:protein interactions, and post-translational modifications (PTMs) of plant- and bacterial-type phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) isozymes (PTPC and BTPC, respectively) in the castor plant, Ricinus communis. Previous studies established that the Class-1 PEPC (PTPC homotetramer) of castor oil seeds (COS) is activated by phosphorylation at Ser-11 and inhibited by monoubiquitination at Lys-628 during endosperm development and germination, respectively. Elimination of photosynthate supply to developing COS by depodding caused the PTPC of the endosperm and cotyledon to be dephosphorylated, and then subsequently monoubiquitinated in vivo. PTPC monoubiquitination rather than phosphorylation is widespread throughout the castor plant and appears to be the predominant PTM of Class-1 PEPC that occurs in planta. The distinctive developmental patterns of PTPC phosphorylation versus monoubiquitination indicates that these two PTMs are mutually exclusive. By contrast, the BTPC: (i) is abundant in the inner integument, cotyledon, and endosperm of developing COS, but occurs at low levels in roots and cotyledons of germinated COS, (ii) shows a unique developmental pattern in leaves such that it is present in leaf buds and young expanding leaves, but undetectable in fully expanded leaves, and (iii) tightly interacts with co-expressed PTPC to form the novel and allosterically-desensitized Class-2 PEPC heteromeric complex. BTPC and thus Class-2 PEPC up-regulation appears to be a distinctive feature of rapidly growing and/or biosynthetically active tissues that require a large anaplerotic flux from phosphoenolpyruvate to replenish tricarboxylic acid cycle C-skeletons being withdrawn for anabolism.
Enzyme phosphorylation; metabolic control; monoubiquitination; phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase; post-translational modification; protein:protein interactions; tissue-specific gene expression
Ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs) are enzymes that inhibit protein synthesis after depurination of a specific adenine in rRNA. The RIP family members are classified as type I RIPs that contain an RNA-N-glycosidase domain and type II RIPs that contain a lectin domain (B chain) in addition to the glycosidase domain (A chain). In this work, we identified 30 new plant RIPs and characterized 18 Ricinus communis RIPs. Phylogenetic and functional divergence analyses indicated that the emergence of type I and II RIPs probably occurred before the monocot/eudicot split. We also report the expression profiles of 18 castor bean genes, including those for ricin and agglutinin, in five seed stages as assessed by quantitative PCR. Ricin and agglutinin were the most expressed RIPs in developing seeds although eight other RIPs were also expressed. All of the RIP genes were most highly expressed in the stages in which the endosperm was fully expanded. Although the reason for the large expansion of RIP genes in castor beans remains to be established, the differential expression patterns of the type I and type II members reinforce the existence of biological functions other than defense against predators and herbivory.
agglutinin; evolution; lipase; Ricinus communis; ricin; RIPs
Recent years have seen an increase in the forensic interest associated with the poison ricin, which is extracted from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant. Both light element (C, N, O, and H) and strontium (Sr) isotope ratios have previously been used to associate organic material with geographic regions of origin. We present a Bayesian integration methodology that can more accurately predict the region of origin for a castor bean than individual models developed independently for light element stable isotopes or Sr isotope ratios. Our results demonstrate a clear improvement in the ability to correctly classify regions based on the integrated model with a class accuracy of 60.9 ± 2.1% versus 55.9 ± 2.1% and 40.2 ± 1.8% for the light element and strontium (Sr) isotope ratios, respectively. In addition, we show graphically the strengths and weaknesses of each dataset in respect to class prediction and how the integration of these datasets strengthens the overall model.
Ricin toxin (RT) is derived from castor beans, produced by the plant Ricinus communis. RT and its toxic A chain (RTA) have been used therapeutically to arm ligands that target disease-causing cells. In most cases these ligands are cell-binding monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). These ligand-toxin conjugates or immunotoxins (ITs) have shown success in clinical trials . Ricin is also of concern in biodefense and has been classified by the CDC as a Class B biothreat. Virtually all reports of RT poisoning have been due to ingestion of castor beans, since they grow abundantly throughout the world and are readily available. RT is easily purified and stable, and is not difficult to weaponize. RT must be considered during any “white powder” incident and there have been documented cases of its use in espionage [2,3]. The clinical syndrome resulting from ricin intoxication is dependent upon the route of exposure. Countermeasures to prevent ricin poisoning are being developed and their use will depend upon whether military or civilian populations are at risk of exposure. In this review we will discuss ricin toxin, its cellular mode of action, the clinical syndromes that occur following exposure and the development of pre- and post-exposure approaches to prevent of intoxication.
ricin; biothreat; vaccines; antibodies
A genomic clone that specifies a single polypeptide precursor for ricin, a toxic lectin of Ricinus communis (castor bean), was isolated, sequenced and Sl mapped. The gene encodes a 64 kDa precursor which contains, in the following order: a 24 or 35 amino acid signal peptide, the A chain, a 12 amino acid linker peptide, and the B chain. The 5'-end of the ricin mRNA maps approximately 35 bases upstream from the first methionine codon. Two putative TATA boxes and a possible CAAT box lie in the 5'-flanking region. Two possible polyadenylation signals were found in the 3' flanking region. No introns were found, which is typical of other lectin genes that have been sequenced. Southern blot analysis suggests that the castor bean genome contains approximately six ricin-like genes.
Botanical insecticides are increasingly attracting research attention as they offer novel modes of action that may provide effective control of pests that have already developed resistance to conventional insecticides. They potentially offer cost-effective pest control to smallholder farmers in developing countries if highly active extracts can be prepared simply from readily available plants. Field cage and open field experiments were conducted to evaluate the insecticidal potential of nine common Ghanaian plants: goat weed, Ageratum conyzoides (Asteraceae), Siam weed, Chromolaena odorata (Asteraceae), Cinderella weed, Synedrella nodiflora (Asteraceae), chili pepper, Capsicum frutescens (Solanaceae), tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum (Solanaceae) cassia, Cassia sophera (Leguminosae), physic nut, Jatropha curcas (Euphorbiaceae), castor oil plant, Ricinus communis (Euphorbiaceae) and basil, Ocimum gratissimum (Lamiaceae). In field cage experiments, simple detergent and water extracts of all botanical treatments gave control of cabbage aphid, Brevicoryne brassicae and diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella, equivalent to the synthetic insecticide Attack® (emamectin benzoate) and superior to water or detergent solution. In open field experiments in the major and minor rainy seasons using a sub-set of plant extracts (A. conyzoides, C. odorata, S. nodiflora, N. tabacum and R. communis), all controlled B. brassicae and P. xylostella more effectively than water control and comparably with or better than Attack®. Botanical and water control treatments were more benign to third trophic level predators than Attack®. Effects cascaded to the first trophic level with all botanical treatments giving cabbage head weights, comparable to Attack® in the minor season. In the major season, R. communis and A conyzoides treatment gave lower head yields than Attack® but the remaining botanicals were equivalent or superior to this synthetic insecticide. Simply-prepared extracts from readily-available Ghanaian plants give beneficial, tri-trophic benefits and merit further research as an inexpensive plant protection strategy for smallholder farmers in West Africa.
Ricin is a highly toxic protein present in the seeds of Ricinus communis (castor), grown principally as a source of high quality industrial lubricant and as an ornamental. Because ricin has been used for intentional poisoning in the past and could be used to contaminate food, there is a need for analytical methodology to detect ricin in food matrices. A monoclonal antibody-based method was developed for detecting and quantifying ricin in ground beef, a complex, fatty matrix. The limit of detection was 0.5 ng/g for the electrochemiluminescence (ECL) method and 1.5 ng/g for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The detection of nanogram per gram quantities of ricin spiked into retail samples of ground beef provides approximately 10,000-fold greater sensitivity than required to detect a toxic dose of ricin (>1 mg) in a 100 g sample.
ricin; Ricinus communis agglutinin; castor; monoclonal antibody; biothreat; electrochemiluminescence
Ricin toxin, an extremely potent and heat-stable toxin produced from the bean of the ubiquitous Ricinus communis (castor bean plant), has been categorized by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a category B biothreat agent that is moderately easy to disseminate. Ricin has the potential to be used as an agent of biological warfare and bioterrorism. Therefore, there is a critical need for continued development of ricin countermeasures. A safe and effective prophylactic vaccine against ricin that was FDA approved for “at risk” individuals would be an important first step in assuring the availability of medical countermeasures against ricin.