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1.  Flavonoid engineering of flax potentiate its biotechnological application 
BMC Biotechnology  2011;11:10.
Flavonoids are a group of secondary plant metabolites important for plant growth and development. They show also a protective effect against colon and breast cancer, diabetes, hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis, lupus nephritis, and immune and inflammatory reactions. Thus, overproduction of these compounds in flax by genetic engineering method might potentiate biotechnological application of these plant products.
Flax plants of third generation overexpressing key genes of flavonoid pathway cultivated in field were used as plant material throughout this study. The biochemical properties of seed, oil and seedcake extracts and fibre from natural and transgenic flax plants were compared. The data obtained suggests that the introduced genes were stably inherited and expressed through plant generations.
Overproduction of flavonoid compounds resulted in increase of fatty acids accumulation in oil from transgenic seeds due to protection from oxidation offered during synthesis and seed maturation. The biochemical analysis of seedcake extracts from seeds of transgenic flax revealed significant increase in flavonoids (kaempferol), phenolic acids (coumaric, ferulic, synapic acids) and lignan content. Fibres, another product of flax plant showed increase in the level of catechine and acetylvanillone and decrease in phenolic acids upon flax modification.
Biochemical analysis results were confirmed using IR spectroscopy. The integral intensities of IR bands have been used for identification of the component of phenylpropanoid pathway in oil, seedcake extract and fibre from control and transgenic flax. It was shown that levels of flavonoids, phenolic acids and lignans in oil and seedcake extract was higher in transgenic flax products compared to control. An FT-IR study of fibres confirmed the biochemical data and revealed that the arrangement of the cellulose polymer in the transgenic fibres differs from the control; in particular a significant decrease in the number of hydrogen bonds was detected.
All analysed products from generated transgenic plants were enriched with antioxidant compounds derived from phenylopropanoid pathway Thus the products provide valuable source of flavonoids, phenolic acids and lignan for biomedical application. The compounds composition and quantity from transgenic plants was confirmed by IR spectroscopy. Thus the infrared spectroscopy appeared to be suitable method for characterization of flax products.
PMCID: PMC3040132  PMID: 21276227
2.  Crossbreeding of transgenic flax plants overproducing flavonoids and glucosyltransferase results in progeny with improved antifungal and antioxidative properties 
Molecular Breeding  2014;34(4):1917-1932.
Flavonoids are a large group of secondary plant metabolites with many important functions; they play a role in fruit, flower and seed pigmentation and are involved in multiple protective mechanisms. They are very active natural antioxidants, acting as antimicrobial compounds in defense against pathogens, and they protect the plant against various stress factors, including excessive solar radiation and temperature. They are also an animal deterrent. Flax is already a very useful crop plant with nutritional and biomedical applications. With increased phenylpropanoid content, flax plants could be used in the production of improved dietary supplements and antimicrobial agents. The main aim of this study was to engineer a flax variety with increased flavonoid content by crossing two transgenic flax varieties that have heightened flavonoid levels. A mother plant that over expresses genes encoding the flavonoid biosynthesis pathway enzymes chalcone synthase, chalcone isomerase and dihydroflavonol reductase was crossed with plants overexpressing the glucosyltransferase (GT) gene. It was expected that the progeny would display better properties thanks to the simultaneous increases in flavonoid synthesis and stability. In comparison to the control and parental plants, plants of the selected flax lines were found to have increased contents of flavonoids and other phenylpropanoids, including phenolic acids, in their stems and seeds. A significant increase in the secoisolariciresinol diglucoside content was found in the seeds. The antioxidative properties of extracts from W92 × GT crossbreed plants were higher than the control (non-transgenic) and parental plants. These results correlated with the increase in the susceptibility of the crossbreeds to Fusarium infection. The increased flavonoid content did not cause any negative phenotypic changes or reduce the yield of seeds.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11032-014-0149-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4257994  PMID: 25506258
Flax; Flavonoids; Fusarium; Cross breeding; Antioxidants; Antifungal activity
3.  Fibres from flax overproducing β-1,3-glucanase show increased accumulation of pectin and phenolics and thus higher antioxidant capacity 
BMC Biotechnology  2013;13:10.
Recently, in order to improve the resistance of flax plants to pathogen infection, transgenic flax that overproduces β-1,3-glucanase was created. β-1,3-glucanase is a PR protein that hydrolyses the β-glucans, which are a major component of the cell wall in many groups of fungi. For this study, we used fourth-generation field-cultivated plants of the Fusarium -resistant transgenic line B14 to evaluate how overexpression of the β-1,3-glucanase gene influences the quantity, quality and composition of flax fibres, which are the main product obtained from flax straw.
Overproduction of β-1,3-glucanase did not affect the quantity of the fibre obtained from the flax straw and did not significantly alter the essential mechanical characteristics of the retted fibres. However, changes in the contents of the major components of the cell wall (cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin and lignin) were revealed. Overexpression of the β-1,3-glucanase gene resulted in higher cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin contents and a lower lignin content in the fibres. Increases in the uronic acid content in particular fractions (with the exception of the 1 M KOH-soluble fraction of hemicelluloses) and changes in the sugar composition of the cell wall were detected in the fibres of the transgenic flax when compared to the contents for the control plants. The callose content was lower in the fibres of the transgenic flax. Additionally, the analysis of phenolic compound contents in five fractions of the cell wall revealed important changes, which were reflected in the antioxidant potential of these fractions.
Overexpression of the β-1,3-glucanase gene has a significant influence on the biochemical composition of flax fibres. The constitutive overproduction of β-1,3-glucanase causes a decrease in the callose content, and the resulting excess glucose serves as a substrate for the production of other polysaccharides. The monosaccharide excess redirects the phenolic compounds to bind with polysaccharides instead of to partake in lignin synthesis. The mechanical properties of the transgenic fibres are strengthened by their improved biochemical composition, and the increased antioxidant potential of the fibres supports the potential use of transgenic flax fibres for biomedical applications.
PMCID: PMC3598203  PMID: 23394294
Biopolymers; Fibres; Flax; Linum usitatissimum
4.  Oligonucleotide treatment causes flax β-glucanase up-regulation via changes in gene-body methylation 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):261.
Nowadays, the challenge for biotechnology is to develop tools for agriculture and industry to provide plants characterized by productivity and quality that will satisfy the growing demand for different kinds of natural products. To meet the challenge, the generation and application of genetically modified plants is justified. However, the strong social resistance to genetically modified organisms and restrictive regulations in European Union countries necessitated the development of a new technology for new plant types generation which uses the knowledge resulting from analysis of genetically modified plants to generate favourably altered plants while omitting the introduction of heterologous genes to their genome. Four-year experiments led to the development of a technology inducing heritable epigenetic gene activation without transgenesis.
The method comprises the induction of changes in methylation/demethylation of the endogenous gene by the plant’s treatment with short oligodeoxynucleotides antisense to the coding region. In vitro cultured plants and F3 generation flax plants overproducing the β-1,3-glucanase gene (EMO-βGlu flax) were characterized by up-regulation of β-glucanase and chitinase genes, decreases in the methylation of CCGG sequences in the β-glucanase gene and in total DNA methylation and, more importantly, reasonable resistance against Fusarium infection. In addition, EMO-βGlu flax obtained by this technology showed similar features as those obtained by genetic engineering.
To our best knowledge, this is the first report on plant gene activation by treatment with oligodeoxynucleotides homologous to the coding region of the gene. Apart from the evident effectiveness, the most important issue is that the EMO method allows generation of favourably altered plants, whose cultivation makes the plant producer independent from the complicated procedure of obtaining an agreement on GMO release into the environment and whose products might be more easily introduced to the global market.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0261-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4209061  PMID: 25287293
Flax resistance; Fusarium infection; Epigenetically modified organism; DNA methylation/demethylation; OLIGO technology; β-1,3-glucanase
5.  The response of diabetic foot to a new type of dressing 
FlaxAid is a newly developed type of dressing enriched in particular flavonoids through genetic engineering of flax plants that exhibit health-promoting activities due to their strong antioxidant properties. The purpose of the current study was to assess the clinical efficacy of the FlaxAid bandage therapy for a patient affected with a diabetic foot ulcer which was unresponsive to previous treatments. The patient was treated with FlaxAid bandages for 12 weeks and the size and properties of the wound were routinely observed and recorded. Due to the the clinical picture of the wound study design was adopted whereby the comparative treatment was cotton gauze wetted with isotonic salt solution.
Following therapy, the foot ulcer decreased in size, despite the decompensation of advanced diabetes. It is believed that the beneficial nature of FlaxAid is derived from its high level and broad spectrum of antioxidants.
The FlaxAid dressing provides a novel and effective method for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. This study presents a preliminary pilot investigation and a larger number of subjects need to be included within the study in order to draw firm clinical conclusions. Efforts to this effect are currently under way.
PMCID: PMC3557212  PMID: 23249420
Leg ulcer; Diabetes; Linen dressing; Therapy; Genetic engineering
6.  Identification and Retting Efficiencies of Fungi Isolated from Dew-Retted Flax in the United States and Europe 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1997;63(10):3950-3956.
Seven strains of filamentous fungi and one yeast were isolated from flax that was dew retted in the United States. These filamentous fungi were subcultured to purity and identified, and six appear not to have been reported earlier as isolates from dew-retted flax. Five of the purified U.S. strains, two fungi isolated from flax that was dew retted in Europe, and a laboratory culture of Aspergillus sojae were tested for their ability to ret flax stems. The monocultures were evaluated for the degree of retting, fiber strength, dry weight loss, and tactile response (i.e., feel of softness) as reflected in the retted fiber. Structural modifications of representative samples of the retted flax were assessed by scanning electron microscopy. All of the filamentous fungi were able to carry out some retting, whereas the isolated yeast could not. All organisms produced pectinases when they were cultivated in shake flasks on ball-milled flax as the sole carbon source. Some fungi also produced cellulases, mannanases, and xylanases. Rhizomucor pusillus and Fusarium lateritium were noteworthy as retting organisms by their high level of pectinase activity, ability to attack noncellulosic cell types without attacking cellulose, capacity to penetrate the cuticular surface of the stem, and efficient fiber release from the core. The results indicated that these organisms deserve further study as potential organisms for retting of bast fibers in industrial applications.
PMCID: PMC1389264  PMID: 16535708
7.  When plants produce not enough or at all: metabolic engineering of flavonoids in microbial hosts 
As a result of the discovery that flavonoids are directly or indirectly connected to health, flavonoid metabolism and its fascinating molecules that are natural products in plants, have attracted the attention of both the industry and researchers involved in plant science, nutrition, bio/chemistry, chemical bioengineering, pharmacy, medicine, etc. Subsequently, in the past few years, flavonoids became a top story in the pharmaceutical industry, which is continually seeking novel ways to produce safe and efficient drugs. Microbial cell cultures can act as workhorse bio-factories by offering their metabolic machinery for the purpose of optimizing the conditions and increasing the productivity of a selective flavonoid. Furthermore, metabolic engineering methodology is used to reinforce what nature does best by correcting the inadequacies and dead-ends of a metabolic pathway. Combinatorial biosynthesis techniques led to the discovery of novel ways of producing natural and even unnatural plant flavonoids, while, in addition, metabolic engineering provided the industry with the opportunity to invest in synthetic biology in order to overcome the currently existing restricted diversification and productivity issues in synthetic chemistry protocols. In this review, is presented an update on the rationalized approaches to the production of natural or unnatural flavonoids through biotechnology, analyzing the significance of combinatorial biosynthesis of agricultural/pharmaceutical compounds produced in heterologous organisms. Also mentioned are strategies and achievements that have so far thrived in the area of synthetic biology, with an emphasis on metabolic engineering targeting the cellular optimization of microorganisms and plants that produce flavonoids, while stressing the advances in flux dynamic control and optimization. Finally, the involvement of the rapidly increasing numbers of assembled genomes that contribute to the gene- or pathway-mining in order to identify the gene(s) responsible for producing species-specific secondary metabolites is also considered herein.
PMCID: PMC4310283
flavonoid biosynthesis; unnatural flavonoids; metabolic engineering; dynamic regulation; metabolic control; secondary metabolites; combinatorial biosynthesis
8.  The biomedical potential of genetically modified flax seeds overexpressing the glucosyltransferase gene 
Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is a potential source of many bioactive components that can be found in its oil and fibers, but also in the seedcake, which is rich in antioxidants. To increase the levels of medically beneficial compounds, a genetically modified flax type (named GT) with an elevated level of phenylopropanoids and their glycoside derivatives was generated. In this study, we investigated the influence of GT seedcake extract preparations on human fibroblast proliferation and migration, and looked at the effect on a human skin model. Moreover, we verified its activity against bacteria of clinical relevance.
The GT flax used in this study is characterized by overexpression of the glucosyltransferase gene derived from Solanum sogarandinum. Five GT seedcake preparations were generated. Their composition was assessed using ultra pressure liquid chromatography and confirmed using the UPLC-QTOF method. For the in vitro evaluation, the influence of the GT seedcake preparations on normal human dermal fibroblast proliferation was assessed using the MTT test and the wound scratch assay. A human skin model was used to evaluate the potential for skin irritation. To assess the antimicrobial properties of GT preparations, the percentage of inhibition of bacterial growth was calculated.
The GT seedcake extract had elevated levels of phenylopropanoid compounds in comparison to the control, non-transformed plants. Significant increases in the content of ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid and caffeic acid, and their glucoside derivatives, kaempferol, quercitin and secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG) were observed in the seeds of the modified plants. The GT seedcake preparations were shown to promote the proliferation of normal human dermal fibroblasts and the migration of fibroblasts in the wound scratch assay. The superior effect of GT seedcake extract on fibroblast migration was observed after a 24-hour treatment. The skin irritation test indicated that GT seedcake preparations have no harmful effect on human skin. Moreover, GT seedcake preparations exhibited inhibitory properties toward two bacterial strains: Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.
We suggest that preparations derived from the new GT flax are an effective source of phenylopropanoids and that their glycoside derivatives and might be promising natural products with both healing and bacteriostatic effects. This flax-derived product is a good candidate for application in the repair and regeneration of human skin and might also be an alternative to antibiotic therapy for infected wounds.
PMCID: PMC3640942  PMID: 23228136
Flax; Seedcake; Phenylpropanoids; Fibroblasts
9.  Manipulating cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase (CAD) expression in flax affects fibre composition and properties 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:50.
In recent decades cultivation of flax and its application have dramatically decreased. One of the reasons for this is unpredictable quality and properties of flax fibre, because they depend on environmental factors, retting duration and growing conditions. These factors have contribution to the fibre composition, which consists of cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignin and pectin. By far, it is largely established that in flax, lignin reduces an accessibility of enzymes either to pectin, hemicelluloses or cellulose (during retting or in biofuel synthesis and paper production).
Therefore, in this study we evaluated composition and properties of flax fibre from plants with silenced CAD (cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase) gene, which is key in the lignin biosynthesis. There is evidence that CAD is a useful tool to improve lignin digestibility and/or to lower the lignin levels in plants.
Two studied lines responded differentially to the introduced modification due to the efficiency of the CAD silencing. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that flax CAD belongs to the “bona-fide” CAD family. CAD down-regulation had an effect in the reduced lignin amount in the flax fibre cell wall and as FT-IR results suggests, disturbed lignin composition and structure. Moreover introduced modification activated a compensatory mechanism which was manifested in the accumulation of cellulose and/or pectin. These changes had putative correlation with observed improved fiber’s tensile strength. Moreover, CAD down-regulation did not disturb at all or has only slight effect on flax plants’ development in vivo, however, the resistance against flax major pathogen Fusarium oxysporum decreased slightly. The modification positively affected fibre possessing; it resulted in more uniform retting.
The major finding of our paper is that the modification targeted directly to block lignin synthesis caused not only reduced lignin level in fibre, but also affected amount and organization of cellulose and pectin. However, to conclude that all observed changes are trustworthy and correlated exclusively to CAD repression, further analysis of the modified plants genome is necessary. Secondly, this is one of the first studies on the crop from the low-lignin plants from the field trail which demonstrates that such plants could be successfully cultivated in a field.
PMCID: PMC3945063  PMID: 24552628
Cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase (CAD); Lignin; Cell wall; Flax fibre; Linum usitatissimum; L
10.  Gene expression analysis of flax seed development 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:74.
Flax, Linum usitatissimum L., is an important crop whose seed oil and stem fiber have multiple industrial applications. Flax seeds are also well-known for their nutritional attributes, viz., omega-3 fatty acids in the oil and lignans and mucilage from the seed coat. In spite of the importance of this crop, there are few molecular resources that can be utilized toward improving seed traits. Here, we describe flax embryo and seed development and generation of comprehensive genomic resources for the flax seed.
We describe a large-scale generation and analysis of expressed sequences in various tissues. Collectively, the 13 libraries we have used provide a broad representation of genes active in developing embryos (globular, heart, torpedo, cotyledon and mature stages) seed coats (globular and torpedo stages) and endosperm (pooled globular to torpedo stages) and genes expressed in flowers, etiolated seedlings, leaves, and stem tissue. A total of 261,272 expressed sequence tags (EST) (GenBank accessions LIBEST_026995 to LIBEST_027011) were generated. These EST libraries included transcription factor genes that are typically expressed at low levels, indicating that the depth is adequate for in silico expression analysis. Assembly of the ESTs resulted in 30,640 unigenes and 82% of these could be identified on the basis of homology to known and hypothetical genes from other plants. When compared with fully sequenced plant genomes, the flax unigenes resembled poplar and castor bean more than grape, sorghum, rice or Arabidopsis. Nearly one-fifth of these (5,152) had no homologs in sequences reported for any organism, suggesting that this category represents genes that are likely unique to flax. Digital analyses revealed gene expression dynamics for the biosynthesis of a number of important seed constituents during seed development.
We have developed a foundational database of expressed sequences and collection of plasmid clones that comprise even low-expressed genes such as those encoding transcription factors. This has allowed us to delineate the spatio-temporal aspects of gene expression underlying the biosynthesis of a number of important seed constituents in flax. Flax belongs to a taxonomic group of diverse plants and the large sequence database will allow for evolutionary studies as well.
PMCID: PMC3107784  PMID: 21529361
11.  Physical mapping and BAC-end sequence analysis provide initial insights into the flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) genome 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:217.
Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is an important source of oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have proven health benefits and utility as an industrial raw material. Flax seeds also contain lignans which are associated with reducing the risk of certain types of cancer. Its bast fibres have broad industrial applications. However, genomic tools needed for molecular breeding were non existent. Hence a project, Total Utilization Flax GENomics (TUFGEN) was initiated. We report here the first genome-wide physical map of flax and the generation and analysis of BAC-end sequences (BES) from 43,776 clones, providing initial insights into the genome.
The physical map consists of 416 contigs spanning ~368 Mb, assembled from 32,025 fingerprints, representing roughly 54.5% to 99.4% of the estimated haploid genome (370-675 Mb). The N50 size of the contigs was estimated to be ~1,494 kb. The longest contig was ~5,562 kb comprising 437 clones. There were 96 contigs containing more than 100 clones. Approximately 54.6 Mb representing 8-14.8% of the genome was obtained from 80,337 BES. Annotation revealed that a large part of the genome consists of ribosomal DNA (~13.8%), followed by known transposable elements at 6.1%. Furthermore, ~7.4% of sequence was identified to harbour novel repeat elements. Homology searches against flax-ESTs and NCBI-ESTs suggested that ~5.6% of the transcriptome is unique to flax. A total of 4064 putative genomic SSRs were identified and are being developed as novel markers for their use in molecular breeding.
The first genome-wide physical map of flax constructed with BAC clones provides a framework for accessing target loci with economic importance for marker development and positional cloning. Analysis of the BES has provided insights into the uniqueness of the flax genome. Compared to other plant genomes, the proportion of rDNA was found to be very high whereas the proportion of known transposable elements was low. The SSRs identified from BES will be valuable in saturating existing linkage maps and for anchoring physical and genetic maps. The physical map and paired-end reads from BAC clones will also serve as scaffolds to build and validate the whole genome shotgun assembly.
PMCID: PMC3113786  PMID: 21554714
12.  Flaxseed dietary fibers lower cholesterol and increase fecal fat excretion, but magnitude of effect depend on food type 
Dietary fibers have been proposed to play a role in cardiovascular risk as well as body weight management. Flaxseeds are a good source of dietary fibers, and a large proportion of these are water-soluble viscous fibers.
Here, we examine the effect of flaxseed dietary fibers in different food matrices on blood lipids and fecal excretion of fat and energy in a double-blind randomized crossover study with 17 subjects. Three different 7-d diets were tested: a low-fiber control diet (Control), a diet with flaxseed fiber drink (3/day) (Flax drink), and a diet with flaxseed fiber bread (3/day) (Flax bread). Total fat and energy excretion was measured in feces, blood samples were collected before and after each period, and appetite sensation registered 3 times daily before main meals.
Compared to control, Flax drink lowered fasting total-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol by 12 and 15%, respectively, (p < 0.01), whereas Flax bread only produced a reduction of 7 and 9%, respectively (p < 0.05). Fecal fat and energy excretion increased by 50 and 23% with Flax drink consumption compared to control (p < 0.05), but only fecal fat excretion was increased with Flax bread compared to control (p < 0.05).
Both Flax drink and Flax bread resulted in decreased plasma total and LDL-cholesterol and increased fat excretion, but the food matrix and/or processing may be of importance. Viscous flaxseed dietary fibers may be a useful tool for lowering blood cholesterol and potentially play a role in energy balance.
Trial Registration NCT00953004
PMCID: PMC3307491  PMID: 22305169
Flaxseed; dietary fiber; fat excretion; cholesterol
13.  Establishment of cell suspension culture in Marchantia linearis Lehm & Lindenb. for the optimum production of flavonoids 
3 Biotech  2013;4(1):49-56.
Bryophytes are the second largest group in the plant kingdom, but studies conducted to better understand their chemical composition are limited and scattered. Axenically grown bryophytes expressed potential in biotechnological processes. The present study was designed to investigate the in vitro cell growth, culture parameters and their effect on flavonoid synthesis. Chlorophyll-containing callus cells of Marchantia linearis Lehm & Lindenb. is able to grow under low light in the presence of organic carbon source and retain the ability to produce flavonoids. Highest flavonoid production was achieved using 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid as growth hormone. Inoculum size, light intensity, organic carbon source and cations are the culture parameters affecting flavonoid productivity. Maximum flavonoid productivity is observed under low light intensity, with a photon flux density ca. 20 μmol/m2/s. Optimal inoculum size and glucose concentration for flavonoid production are 10–14 and 2–3 %, respectively. Cations like ferrous trigger flavonoid synthesis by increasing its intracellular concentrations. Flavonoid production in the cell culture is shown to be significantly growth related. Osmotic stress is ineffective in triggering flavonoid synthesis. Methyl jasmonate and 2-(2-fluoro-6-nitrobenzylsulfanyl) pyridine-4-carbothioamide elicitors showed positive effect on intracellular flavonoid content in cultured cells. Using the standard plot of quercetin (y = 0.0148x, R2 = 0.975), the flavonoid contents of in vitro samples were found ranging from 4.0 to 17.7 mg quercetin equivalent/g tissue. Flavonoids are fractionated by HPLC-PAD revealed the presence of quercetin (182.5 μg/g), luteolin (464.5 μg/g) and apigenin (297.5 μg/g). Further studies are warranted to analyze the therapeutic potentiality of the flavonoids in the liverwort.
PMCID: PMC3909577
Cell suspension; Culture parameters; Flavonoids; Marchantia linearis
14.  Genome wide SNP discovery in flax through next generation sequencing of reduced representation libraries 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:684.
Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is a significant fibre and oilseed crop. Current flax molecular markers, including isozymes, RAPDs, AFLPs and SSRs are of limited use in the construction of high density linkage maps and for association mapping applications due to factors such as low reproducibility, intense labour requirements and/or limited numbers. We report here on the use of a reduced representation library strategy combined with next generation Illumina sequencing for rapid and large scale discovery of SNPs in eight flax genotypes. SNP discovery was performed through in silico analysis of the sequencing data against the whole genome shotgun sequence assembly of flax genotype CDC Bethune. Genotyping-by-sequencing of an F6-derived recombinant inbred line population provided validation of the SNPs.
Reduced representation libraries of eight flax genotypes were sequenced on the Illumina sequencing platform resulting in sequence coverage ranging from 4.33 to 15.64X (genome equivalents). Depending on the relatedness of the genotypes and the number and length of the reads, between 78% and 93% of the reads mapped onto the CDC Bethune whole genome shotgun sequence assembly. A total of 55,465 SNPs were discovered with the largest number of SNPs belonging to the genotypes with the highest mapping coverage percentage. Approximately 84% of the SNPs discovered were identified in a single genotype, 13% were shared between any two genotypes and the remaining 3% in three or more. Nearly a quarter of the SNPs were found in genic regions. A total of 4,706 out of 4,863 SNPs discovered in Macbeth were validated using genotyping-by-sequencing of 96 F6 individuals from a recombinant inbred line population derived from a cross between CDC Bethune and Macbeth, corresponding to a validation rate of 96.8%.
Next generation sequencing of reduced representation libraries was successfully implemented for genome-wide SNP discovery from flax. The genotyping-by-sequencing approach proved to be efficient for validation. The SNP resources generated in this work will assist in generating high density maps of flax and facilitate QTL discovery, marker-assisted selection, phylogenetic analyses, association mapping and anchoring of the whole genome shotgun sequence.
PMCID: PMC3557168  PMID: 23216845
Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP); Genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS); Reduced representation library (RRL); Illumina; Flax; Linum usitatissimum; AGSNP
15.  Transformation of the flax rust fungus, Melampsora lini: selection via silencing of an avirulence gene 
Rust fungi cause devastating diseases on many important food crops, with a damaging stem rust epidemic currently affecting wheat production in Africa and the Middle East. These parasitic fungi propagate exclusively on plants, precluding the use of many biotechnological tools available for other culturable fungi. In particular the lack of a stable transformation system has been an impediment to the genetic manipulation required for molecular analysis of rust pathogenicity. We have developed an Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation procedure for the model flax rust fungus Melampsora lini, which infects flax (Linum usitatissimum). Selection of transgenic rust lines is based on silencing of AvrL567, which encodes a rust effector protein that is recognised by the flax L6 immune receptor. The non-transgenic rust line is unable to infect flax plants expressing L6, while silenced transgenic lines are virulent on these plants, providing an effective selection system. This directly confirms that the cloned AvrL567 gene is responsible for flax rust virulence phenotypes, and demonstrates the utility of this system to probe rust gene function.
PMCID: PMC3142615  PMID: 19874543
rust; transformation; avirulence; effector; gene silencing; Agrobacterium
16.  Interrogating and Predicting Tolerated Sequence Diversity in Protein Folds: Application to E. elaterium Trypsin Inhibitor-II Cystine-Knot Miniprotein 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(9):e1000499.
Cystine-knot miniproteins (knottins) are promising molecular scaffolds for protein engineering applications. Members of the knottin family have multiple loops capable of displaying conformationally constrained polypeptides for molecular recognition. While previous studies have illustrated the potential of engineering knottins with modified loop sequences, a thorough exploration into the tolerated loop lengths and sequence space of a knottin scaffold has not been performed. In this work, we used the Ecballium elaterium trypsin inhibitor II (EETI) as a model member of the knottin family and constructed libraries of EETI loop-substituted variants with diversity in both amino acid sequence and loop length. Using yeast surface display, we isolated properly folded EETI loop-substituted clones and applied sequence analysis tools to assess the tolerated diversity of both amino acid sequence and loop length. In addition, we used covariance analysis to study the relationships between individual positions in the substituted loops, based on the expectation that correlated amino acid substitutions will occur between interacting residue pairs. We then used the results of our sequence and covariance analyses to successfully predict loop sequences that facilitated proper folding of the knottin when substituted into EETI loop 3. The sequence trends we observed in properly folded EETI loop-substituted clones will be useful for guiding future protein engineering efforts with this knottin scaffold. Furthermore, our findings demonstrate that the combination of directed evolution with sequence and covariance analyses can be a powerful tool for rational protein engineering.
Author Summary
The use of engineered proteins in medicine and biotechnology has surged in recent years. An emerging approach for developing novel proteins is to use a naturally-occurring protein as a molecular framework, or scaffold, wherein amino acid mutations are introduced to elicit new properties, such as the ability to recognize a specific target molecule. Successful protein engineering with this strategy requires a dependable and customizable scaffold that tolerates modifications without compromising structure. An important consideration for scaffold utility is whether existing loops can be replaced with loops of different lengths and amino acid sequences without disrupting the protein framework. This paper offers a rigorous study of the effects of modifying the exposed loops of Ecballium elaterium trypsin inhibitor II (EETI), a member of a family of promising scaffold proteins called knottins. Through our work, we identified sequence patterns of modified EETI loops that are structurally tolerated. Using bioinformatics tools, we established molecular guidelines for designing peptides for substitution into EETI and successfully predicted loop-substituted EETI variants that retain the correct protein fold. This study provides a basis for understanding the versatility of the knottin scaffold as a protein engineering platform and can be applied for predictive interrogation of other scaffold proteins.
PMCID: PMC2725296  PMID: 19730675
17.  Engineering a Hyperthermophilic Archaeon for Temperature-Dependent Product Formation 
mBio  2012;3(2):e00053-12.
Microorganisms growing near the boiling point have enormous biotechnological potential but only recently have molecular engineering tools become available for them. We have engineered the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus, which grows optimally at 100°C, to switch its end products of fermentation in a temperature-controlled fashion without the need for chemical inducers. The recombinant strain (LAC) expresses a gene (ldh) encoding lactate dehydrogenase from the moderately thermophilic Caldicellulosiruptor bescii (optimal growth temperature [Topt] of 78°C) controlled by a “cold shock” promoter that is upregulated when cells are transferred from 98°C to 72°C. At 98°C, the LAC strain fermented sugar to produce acetate and hydrogen as end products, and lactate was not detected. When the LAC strain was grown at 72°C, up to 3 mM lactate was produced instead. Expression of a gene from a moderately thermophilic bacterium in a hyperthermophilic archaeon at temperatures at which the hyperthermophile has low metabolic activity provides a new perspective to engineering microorganisms for bioproduct and biofuel formation.
IMPORTANCE Extremely thermostable enzymes from microorganisms that grow near or above the boiling point of water are already used in biotechnology. However, the use of hyperthermophilic microorganisms themselves for biotechnological applications has been limited by the lack of their genetic accessibility. Recently, a genetic system for Pyrococcus furiosus, which grows optimally near 100°C, was developed in our laboratory. In this study, we present the first heterologous protein expression system for a microorganism that grows optimally at 100°C, a first step towards the potential expression of genes involved in biomass degradation or biofuel production in hyperthermophiles. Moreover, we developed the first system for specific gene induction in P. furiosus. As the cold shock promoter for protein expression used in this study is activated at suboptimal growth temperatures of P. furiosus, it is a powerful genetic tool for protein expression with minimal interference of the host’s metabolism and without the need for chemical inducers.
Extremely thermostable enzymes from microorganisms that grow near or above the boiling point of water are already used in biotechnology. However, the use of hyperthermophilic microorganisms themselves for biotechnological applications has been limited by the lack of their genetic accessibility. Recently, a genetic system for Pyrococcus furiosus, which grows optimally near 100°C, was developed in our laboratory. In this study, we present the first heterologous protein expression system for a microorganism that grows optimally at 100°C, a first step towards the potential expression of genes involved in biomass degradation or biofuel production in hyperthermophiles. Moreover, we developed the first system for specific gene induction in P. furiosus. As the cold shock promoter for protein expression used in this study is activated at suboptimal growth temperatures of P. furiosus, it is a powerful genetic tool for protein expression with minimal interference of the host’s metabolism and without the need for chemical inducers.
PMCID: PMC3345578  PMID: 22511351
18.  Chemistry and Biological Activities of Flavonoids: An Overview 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:162750.
There has been increasing interest in the research on flavonoids from plant sources because of their versatile health benefits reported in various epidemiological studies. Since flavonoids are directly associated with human dietary ingredients and health, there is need to evaluate structure and function relationship. The bioavailability, metabolism, and biological activity of flavonoids depend upon the configuration, total number of hydroxyl groups, and substitution of functional groups about their nuclear structure. Fruits and vegetables are the main dietary sources of flavonoids for humans, along with tea and wine. Most recent researches have focused on the health aspects of flavonoids for humans. Many flavonoids are shown to have antioxidative activity, free radical scavenging capacity, coronary heart disease prevention, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer activities, while some flavonoids exhibit potential antiviral activities. In plant systems, flavonoids help in combating oxidative stress and act as growth regulators. For pharmaceutical purposes cost-effective bulk production of different types of flavonoids has been made possible with the help of microbial biotechnology. This review highlights the structural features of flavonoids, their beneficial roles in human health, and significance in plants as well as their microbial production.
PMCID: PMC3891543  PMID: 24470791
19.  Selection of reference genes for quantitative gene expression normalization in flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:71.
Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) is currently the most accurate method for detecting differential gene expression. Such an approach depends on the identification of uniformly expressed 'housekeeping genes' (HKGs). Extensive transcriptomic data mining and experimental validation in different model plants have shown that the reliability of these endogenous controls can be influenced by the plant species, growth conditions and organs/tissues examined. It is therefore important to identify the best reference genes to use in each biological system before using qRT-PCR to investigate differential gene expression. In this paper we evaluate different candidate HKGs for developmental transcriptomic studies in the economically-important flax fiber- and oil-crop (Linum usitatissimum L).
Specific primers were designed in order to quantify the expression levels of 20 different potential housekeeping genes in flax roots, internal- and external-stem tissues, leaves and flowers at different developmental stages. After calculations of PCR efficiencies, 13 HKGs were retained and their expression stabilities evaluated by the computer algorithms geNorm and NormFinder. According to geNorm, 2 Transcriptional Elongation Factors (TEFs) and 1 Ubiquitin gene are necessary for normalizing gene expression when all studied samples are considered. However, only 2 TEFs are required for normalizing expression in stem tissues. In contrast, NormFinder identified glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GADPH) as the most stably expressed gene when all samples were grouped together, as well as when samples were classed into different sub-groups.
qRT-PCR was then used to investigate the relative expression levels of two splice variants of the flax LuMYB1 gene (homologue of AtMYB59). LuMYB1-1 and LuMYB1-2 were highly expressed in the internal stem tissues as compared to outer stem tissues and other samples. This result was confirmed with both geNorm-designated- and NormFinder-designated-reference genes.
The use of 2 different statistical algorithms results in the identification of different combinations of flax HKGs for expression data normalization. Despite such differences, the use of geNorm-designated- and NormFinder-designated-reference genes enabled us to accurately compare the expression levels of a flax MYB gene in different organs and tissues. Our identification and validation of suitable flax HKGs will facilitate future developmental transcriptomic studies in this economically-important plant.
PMCID: PMC3095345  PMID: 20403198
20.  Pollen-mediated gene flow in flax (Linum usitatissimum L.): can genetically engineered and organic flax coexist? 
Heredity  2010;106(4):557-566.
Coexistence allows growers and consumers the choice of producing or purchasing conventional or organic crops with known standards for adventitious presence of genetically engineered (GE) seed. Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is multipurpose oilseed crop in which product diversity and utility could be enhanced for industrial, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical markets through genetic engineering. If GE flax were released commercially, pollen-mediated gene flow will determine in part whether GE flax could coexist without compromising other markets. As a part of pre-commercialization risk assessment, we quantified pollen-mediated gene flow between two cultivars of flax. Field experiments were conducted at four locations during 2006 and 2007 in western Canada using a concentric donor (20 × 20 m) receptor (120 × 120 m) design. Gene flow was detected through the xenia effect of dominant alleles of high α-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3cisΔ9,12,15) to the low ALA trait. Seeds were harvested from the pollen recipient plots up to a distance of 50 m in eight directions from the pollen donor. High ALA seeds were identified using a thiobarbituric acid test and served as a marker for gene flow. Binomial distribution and power analysis were used to predict the minimum number of seeds statistically required to detect the frequency of gene flow at specific α (confidence interval) and power (1−β) values. As a result of the low frequency of gene flow, approximately 4 million seeds were screened to derive accurate quantification. Frequency of gene flow was highest near the source: averaging 0.0185 at 0.1 m but declined rapidly with distance, 0.0013 and 0.00003 at 3 and 35 m, respectively. Gene flow was reduced to 50% (O50) and 90% (O90) between 0.85 to 2.64 m, and 5.68 to 17.56 m, respectively. No gene flow was detected at any site or year >35 m distance from the pollen source, suggesting that frequency of gene flow was ⩽0.00003 (P=0.95). Although it is not possible to eliminate all adventitious presence caused by pollen-mediated gene flow, through harvest blending and the use of buffer zones between GE and conventional flax fields, it could be minimized. Managing other sources of adventitious presence including seed mixing and volunteer populations may be more problematic.
PMCID: PMC3183899  PMID: 20551976
coexistence; adventitious presence; conventional; organic; pollen-mediated gene flow; regulation
21.  Intramolecular Interaction Influences Binding of the Flax L5 and L6 Resistance Proteins to their AvrL567 Ligands 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(11):e1003004.
L locus resistance (R) proteins are nucleotide binding (NB-ARC) leucine-rich repeat (LRR) proteins from flax (Linum usitatissimum) that provide race-specific resistance to the causal agent of flax rust disease, Melampsora lini. L5 and L6 are two alleles of the L locus that directly recognize variants of the fungal effector AvrL567. In this study, we have investigated the molecular details of this recognition by site-directed mutagenesis of AvrL567 and construction of chimeric L proteins. Single, double and triple mutations of polymorphic residues in a variety of AvrL567 variants showed additive effects on recognition strength, suggesting that multiple contact points are involved in recognition. Domain-swap experiments between L5 and L6 show that specificity differences are determined by their corresponding LRR regions. Most positively selected amino acid sites occur in the N- and C-terminal LRR units, and polymorphisms in the first seven and last four LRR units contribute to recognition specificity of L5 and L6 respectively. This further confirms that multiple, additive contact points occur between AvrL567 variants and either L5 or L6. However, we also observed that recognition of AvrL567 is affected by co-operative polymorphisms between both adjacent and distant domains of the R protein, including the TIR, ARC and LRR domains, implying that these residues are involved in intramolecular interactions to optimize detection of the pathogen and defense signal activation. We suggest a model where Avr ligand interaction directly competes with intramolecular interactions to cause activation of the R protein.
Author Summary
The biotrophic fungus Melampsora lini is the causal agent of flax rust disease. Flax produces immune-receptor proteins that recognize fungal effector proteins, and subsequently signal the activation of plant defense responses. Here we report the molecular details of interactions between L-locus immune-receptors and AvrL567-locus effectors, as well as the engineering of an enhanced flax immune-receptor. In order to investigate the role of AvrL567 amino acid residues hypothesized to mediate interactions with L-locus immune receptors, we generated a series of site-direct mutations in AvrL567 proteins. Conversely, to investigate the role of regions hypothesized to mediate interactions with AvrL567 effectors, we generated a series of chimeric L-locus immune-receptors that contain swaps between, and within protein domains. Interactions between modified immune-receptors and effector proteins were evaluated using the yeast-two-hybrid system and transient expression in planta. Our results revealed that interactions between L-locus immune receptors and AvrL567-locus effector proteins involve multiple surfaces, and that intramolecular interactions between, and within, domains of L-locus immune-receptors plays a crucial role in these interactions. Finally, the generation of an enhanced immune-receptor is an important proof-of-concept demonstrating the utility of protein engineering in generating novel disease resistance in agricultural crops.
PMCID: PMC3510248  PMID: 23209402
22.  Dust Diseases in Dundee Textile Workers 
A survey of respiratory symptoms and function was carried out in Dundee among 123 men and women in the jute industry and 242 in the flax industry. The selection of workers was biassed in favour of those working in the dustier departments as judged by eye and those in the older age groups. A group of 72 men in a heavy engineering firm were also selected as controls for comparison.
Chronic bronchitis, as defined by Ogilvie and Newell (1957) was recorded in 27% of those interviewed, whose average age was 49. Byssinosis of various grades was recorded in 30% of all working in flax; of these 35 had cough alone worse on Monday, 34 had other respiratory symptoms worse on Monday and in only four persons did the exacerbation persist longer in the week.
In spite of the occurrence of byssinosis, chronic bronchitis was no more prevalent among flax workers than among the others, the average ventilatory function was no worse, and radiographs of the chest revealed no differences. The characteristic fall in expiratory flow rate during the course of exposure to flax dust on Mondays is similar to that found in cotton workers, and is absent in jute workers and in flax workers not admitting to symptoms of byssinosis.
PMCID: PMC1038081  PMID: 13765497
23.  Metabolic network reconstruction of Chlamydomonas offers insight into light-driven algal metabolism 
A comprehensive genome-scale metabolic network of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, including a detailed account of light-driven metabolism, is reconstructed and validated. The model provides a new resource for research of C. reinhardtii metabolism and in algal biotechnology.
The genome-scale metabolic network of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (iRC1080) was reconstructed, accounting for >32% of the estimated metabolic genes encoded in the genome, and including extensive details of lipid metabolic pathways.This is the first metabolic network to explicitly account for stoichiometry and wavelengths of metabolic photon usage, providing a new resource for research of C. reinhardtii metabolism and developments in algal biotechnology.Metabolic functional annotation and the largest transcript verification of a metabolic network to date was performed, at least partially verifying >90% of the transcripts accounted for in iRC1080. Analysis of the network supports hypotheses concerning the evolution of latent lipid pathways in C. reinhardtii, including very long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid and ceramide synthesis pathways.A novel approach for modeling light-driven metabolism was developed that accounts for both light source intensity and spectral quality of emitted light. The constructs resulting from this approach, termed prism reactions, were shown to significantly improve the accuracy of model predictions, and their use was demonstrated for evaluation of light source efficiency and design.
Algae have garnered significant interest in recent years, especially for their potential application in biofuel production. The hallmark, model eukaryotic microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has been widely used to study photosynthesis, cell motility and phototaxis, cell wall biogenesis, and other fundamental cellular processes (Harris, 2001). Characterizing algal metabolism is key to engineering production strains and understanding photobiological phenomena. Based on extensive literature on C. reinhardtii metabolism, its genome sequence (Merchant et al, 2007), and gene functional annotation, we have reconstructed and experimentally validated the genome-scale metabolic network for this alga, iRC1080, the first network to account for detailed photon absorption permitting growth simulations under different light sources. iRC1080 accounts for 1080 genes, associated with 2190 reactions and 1068 unique metabolites and encompasses 83 subsystems distributed across 10 cellular compartments (Figure 1A). Its >32% coverage of estimated metabolic genes is a tremendous expansion over previous algal reconstructions (Boyle and Morgan, 2009; Manichaikul et al, 2009). The lipid metabolic pathways of iRC1080 are considerably expanded relative to existing networks, and chemical properties of all metabolites in these pathways are accounted for explicitly, providing sufficient detail to completely specify all individual molecular species: backbone molecule and stereochemical numbering of acyl-chain positions; acyl-chain length; and number, position, and cis–trans stereoisomerism of carbon–carbon double bonds. Such detail in lipid metabolism will be critical for model-driven metabolic engineering efforts.
We experimentally verified transcripts accounted for in the network under permissive growth conditions, detecting >90% of tested transcript models (Figure 1B) and providing validating evidence for the contents of iRC1080. We also analyzed the extent of transcript verification by specific metabolic subsystems. Some subsystems stood out as more poorly verified, including chloroplast and mitochondrial transport systems and sphingolipid metabolism, all of which exhibited <80% of transcripts detected, reflecting incomplete characterization of compartmental transporters and supporting a hypothesis of latent pathway evolution for ceramide synthesis in C. reinhardtii. Additional lines of evidence from the reconstruction effort similarly support this hypothesis including lack of ceramide synthetase and other annotation gaps downstream in sphingolipid metabolism. A similar hypothesis of latent pathway evolution was established for very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) and their polyunsaturated analogs (VLCPUFAs) (Figure 1C), owing to the absence of this class of lipids in previous experimental measurements, lack of a candidate VLCFA elongase in the functional annotation, and additional downstream annotation gaps in arachidonic acid metabolism.
The network provides a detailed account of metabolic photon absorption by light-driven reactions, including photosystems I and II, light-dependent protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase, provitamin D3 photoconversion to vitamin D3, and rhodopsin photoisomerase; this network accounting permits the precise modeling of light-dependent metabolism. iRC1080 accounts for effective light spectral ranges through analysis of biochemical activity spectra (Figure 3A), either reaction activity or absorbance at varying light wavelengths. Defining effective spectral ranges associated with each photon-utilizing reaction enabled our network to model growth under different light sources via stoichiometric representation of the spectral composition of emitted light, termed prism reactions. Coefficients for different photon wavelengths in a prism reaction correspond to the ratios of photon flux in the defined effective spectral ranges to the total emitted photon flux from a given light source (Figure 3B). This approach distinguishes the amount of emitted photons that drive different metabolic reactions. We created prism reactions for most light sources that have been used in published studies for algal and plant growth including solar light, various light bulbs, and LEDs. We also included regulatory effects, resulting from lighting conditions insofar as published studies enabled. Light and dark conditions have been shown to affect metabolic enzyme activity in C. reinhardtii on multiple levels: transcriptional regulation, chloroplast RNA degradation, translational regulation, and thioredoxin-mediated enzyme regulation. Through application of our light model and prism reactions, we were able to closely recapitulate experimental growth measurements under solar, incandescent, and red LED lights. Through unbiased sampling, we were able to establish the tremendous statistical significance of the accuracy of growth predictions achievable through implementation of prism reactions. Finally, application of the photosynthetic model was demonstrated prospectively to evaluate light utilization efficiency under different light sources. The results suggest that, of the existing light sources, red LEDs provide the greatest efficiency, about three times as efficient as sunlight. Extending this analysis, the model was applied to design a maximally efficient LED spectrum for algal growth. The result was a 677-nm peak LED spectrum with a total incident photon flux of 360 μE/m2/s, suggesting that for the simple objective of maximizing growth efficiency, LED technology has already reached an effective theoretical optimum.
In summary, the C. reinhardtii metabolic network iRC1080 that we have reconstructed offers insight into the basic biology of this species and may be employed prospectively for genetic engineering design and light source design relevant to algal biotechnology. iRC1080 was used to analyze lipid metabolism and generate novel hypotheses about the evolution of latent pathways. The predictive capacity of metabolic models developed from iRC1080 was demonstrated in simulating mutant phenotypes and in evaluation of light source efficiency. Our network provides a broad knowledgebase of the biochemistry and genomics underlying global metabolism of a photoautotroph, and our modeling approach for light-driven metabolism exemplifies how integration of largely unvisited data types, such as physicochemical environmental parameters, can expand the diversity of applications of metabolic networks.
Metabolic network reconstruction encompasses existing knowledge about an organism's metabolism and genome annotation, providing a platform for omics data analysis and phenotype prediction. The model alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is employed to study diverse biological processes from photosynthesis to phototaxis. Recent heightened interest in this species results from an international movement to develop algal biofuels. Integrating biological and optical data, we reconstructed a genome-scale metabolic network for this alga and devised a novel light-modeling approach that enables quantitative growth prediction for a given light source, resolving wavelength and photon flux. We experimentally verified transcripts accounted for in the network and physiologically validated model function through simulation and generation of new experimental growth data, providing high confidence in network contents and predictive applications. The network offers insight into algal metabolism and potential for genetic engineering and efficient light source design, a pioneering resource for studying light-driven metabolism and quantitative systems biology.
PMCID: PMC3202792  PMID: 21811229
Chlamydomonas reinhardtii; lipid metabolism; metabolic engineering; photobioreactor
24.  Role of histamine in the aetiology of byssinosis. II. Lung histamine concentrations in guinea pigs chronically exposed to cotton and flax dusts. 
Data presented in this study support the finding that cotton and flax dusts contain agents which potentiate the formation or accumulation of histamine or both in the lungs of guinea pigs exposed to dust, and that such agents are present at much higher levels in cotton dust than in flax dust. The potentiating effect may be through the recruitment of mast cells into the lung. Both cotton and flax dusts contain methylating enzyme inhibitory agents, whereas cotton dust also contains agents that inhibit histaminase activity; flax dust contains agents potentiating histamine activity. These agents working together result in the accumulation or depletion of histamine observed in the different groups of animals exposed to either cotton or flax dust in this study.
PMCID: PMC1009285  PMID: 6722048
Acta ophthalmologica  2011;89(3):e217-e224.
To determine whether the hill of vision for Short-Wavelength Automated Perimetry (SWAP) is shallower for women who consume phytoestrogen-rich foods than for women who do not.
Visual field data were compared for two groups of healthy amenorrheic women 48-69 years-old with normal vision and not using hormone replacement: (1) 24 subjects who reported consuming soy and/or flax products and (2) 20 subjects who reported not consuming these products. Two types of 24-2 visual fields were measured: (1) Full Threshold SWAP, and (2) a white-on-white (W/W) field obtained using a Swedish Interactive Threshold Algorithm (SITA Standard).
The reduction of SWAP sensitivity from the center of the field [4 loci, mean eccentricity = 4.2°] to the periphery [20 loci, mean eccentricity = 21.9°] was less for soy/flax consumers than for non-consumers, both with age-referencing (mean difference = 1.7 dB, p = .018) and without (p = .012). Corresponding distinctions existed for the SWAP – W/W difference, and there was minimal effect for W/W fields alone. The peripheral age-referenced SWAP sensitivities averaged 2.5 dB higher for consumers than non-consumers (p = .022).
The between-group distinctions are consistent with the possibility (derived from the women’s health literature) that phytoestrogens may counteract a decline of SWS-cone-mediated response among post-menopausal women. These results suggest another potential application for SWAP outside its original intended purpose as a glaucoma test. Future studies should assess whether phytoestrogen consumption is most beneficial for women who are sufficiently young and/or not too far beyond menopause.
PMCID: PMC2888924  PMID: 19958290
aging; blue cone; estrogen; peripheral vision; visual field

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