Valuable metabolite probe from castor meal

Castor meal is a concentrated residue matter produced after extraction of oil from castor seeds.Its application is so restricted due to ricin and poor molecular biochemical knowledge about the material.A surprising breakthrough has been made by the discovery of galactinol, a carbohydrate derivative associated with raffinose metabolism in plants to an appreciable extent on mass basis.

Experimental designs including chromatography and mass spectrometry were applied to isolate and confirm the purity of galactinol in castor meal.The scientists further stated that it is exciting as research in past in the concerned field is hindered by a lack of availability of commercial source of galactinol.

Galactinol discovery in castor meal illuminates the potential of castor meal which is currently applied as a field manure in most of the castor growing regions.Identification of high value metabolites would tremendously add the commercial value to this product on an international scale.

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Novel nylons from castor oil

Nylon is a  polymer with a wide spectrum of industrial applications.It is generally available in different grades depending on the nature of monomeric constituents of which Nylon6,10 and Nylon 11 are of special attention as their constituents are derived from castor oil.

Nylon 11 is a modern day polymer first produced by Arkema,France in 2009 by utilizing a castor oil derivative, aminoundecanoic acid which is unique to serve as a reactant for polymer synthesis by self-polycondensation. According to the firm,they commercialized the product as Rilsan and claims that the technology is accessed by firms Japan’ Unitika and Monnet and Sofila of France and proved to be satisfactory.They further claim that the products generated from Nylon 11 are dimensional stability, abrasion and thermal resistance etc.

In spite of its advantages,sources say that the yarns seem to be expensive and non biodegradable which may tend to raise the environmental and industrial concerns over the large and long range application of this wonderful polymer

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Analysis of sub-cellular components in castor seed

Castor seed is an evolved propagative material with a great molecular complexity in endosperm. Biochemical analysis of protein bodies in castor seed endosperm has been made.Protein bodies account for a major fraction in the total protein content in castor seed and is thought to involve in an important role in the mobilization of nutrients during seed development and germination.Scientists from an University in USA have isolated them from endosperm tissues and identified two principal units namely globoids and crystalloids embedded in an amorphous matrix.A protein fingerprint of buffer and detergent soluble matrix and crystalloid fractions from protein bodies was examined and revealed complexes and modified proteins including the toxin Ricin present in the soluble fraction.The principal techniques applied in this experimental study were gel electrophoresis and chromatography for resolution and analytical purposes.

Studies of such type are noteworthy to identify novel members of proteins along with their sub-cellular localization and biological functions.

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Proteases characterization in germinating castor seeds

Castor, a key agricultural crop has long been studied at the morphological level for understanding its behaviour.Researchers have deepened their approach and made an attempt to implicate the phenotypic, germination phenomenon in castor with the molecular level of proteins.During germination, the energy reserves are mobilized from endosperm to emerging plant organs which appears to be regulated by catalysis.Scientists from University of California have identified two important proteolytic enzymes called them as aminopeptidases from castor bean endosperm after an experimental confirmation in their activity against synthetic substrates.They even found the enzymes’ functional activity under physiological conditions was at the peak during the initial phase of germination and completely vanished during endosperm senescence.The study was so robust which permitted the researchers to further identify other classes of proteases associated with castor seed germination but they showed an inverse relation with previous members in terms of their temporal presence.

Results of this study clearly indicate that proteases play a vital role in castor seed germination as we normally observe with plant seed germination and a comprehensive profiling of proteases would enable biologists to exploit them as candidate markers for the selection of seeds with effective germination and productive stand in the field.

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Mounting uncertainity in castor oil prices

Castor oil is valued in the industrial world for its flexible applications but the  end user industries in the castor oil value chain continue to remain concerned over its price volatility in the market.Castor seeds bold type showed a surge by Rs:25 to Rs:5325 from the previous days close of Rs:5300.This trend was  applicable to industrial grade castor oil as well with prices increased slightly from Rs:10,900 to Rs10,950.Castor seed futures for June also shows an hiked pricing trend.It is vital to note that the prices are in fact doubles in a relatively short span of 6-8 months from the previous year.

Experts point to an increased demand and limited supply from the  market as prime factors for this crisis in castor but it would most probably have a serious impact on the revenue generation and  export of castor oil from India as the  importers particularly from the West seem to expect a consistency in the prices for their long term castor trading with India.

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Profiling of catalyst in castor seed

Castor bean biochemistry has long been thoroughly analysed in the context of lipids as they are industrially potent metabolites but profiling of other bio-molecules and their control over co-ordinated metabolism are not comprehensive.

Biochemists have made research on castor bean derived enzyme,phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase(PEPC) which is an ubiquitous enzyme,implicated to carbon metabolism.The level and functional activity of this enzyme is  variable in castor seed and subjected to different molecular mechanisms for a regulation in functional activity during the course of seed development  .Recently, people have identified a modification called mono-ubiquitination in PEPC but its relevance to enzyme’s activity is not well understood and hence to identify its significance, biochemists have purified the enzyme and subjected for in vitro activity,inhibitor sensitivity and other physiochemical parameters.The results indicated a striking difference in enzyme behaviour between modified and unmodified versions with monoubiquitinated forms had a increased functional activity and enabled the researchers to detect the importance of this mechanism in developing castor seeds.Immunoelectroblotting and advanced mass spectrometry were the major analytical tools of this study.

The research is unique as it is often proved that ubiquitination will normally direct the labeled targets for proteolytic degradation for turn over.However in this case it is contrary and proves that this post translational modification in proteins is not completely favouring protein catabolism.

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Molecular profiling of castor allergic protein

Castor seed is a potent source of allergic proteins and 2s albumin is a principal protein among them.Scientists have monitored the  expression of this protein over different developmental phases of the castor seed and plant.They were able to observe the expression of this protein  after 2 weeks of pollination and continued to exist till the completion of seed germination.Post germination events witnessed a loss in the levels of this allergen to a significant event.The researchers also detected that the protein adopts a post translational modification and found to be localized in endosperm and cotyledons of the seed during the course of its existence. Immuno-electroblotting and Quantitative PCR were the techniques applied in this research study to address the problems.

2S albumins are potent allergens from castor beans which affects the cultivation of castor in several countries as field workers find it difficult to physically handle the oil seed.Understanding the expression pattern of the allergen would assist the scientists to regulate the synthesis of this protein and ultimately generate a seed with levels of 2s albumin safe to cultivate and harvest castor.

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Toxicological analysis of ricin protein.

Ricin is a toxic protein in Castor.Italian researchers have conducted an ocular toxicological study of ricin in rabbits.They administered variable concentrations of the toxin onto the rabbit’s eyes and evaluated its toxic function.The experimental study revealed that the toxin induced inflammation response in eyes of experimental animals and they even removed the eyes and noticed microscopic pathological manifestations of the toxin.As a way of identifying the neutralizer to the toxin,they evaluated phosphate buffer and 10% lactose solutions with the former had no effect while latter exhibited a partial toxin neutralization activity.The dead subjects were also analyzed.Results indicated that an internal injury to the organs was also imposed by the toxin which further made scientists to conclude that the inability of the neutralizer solutions was due to the rapid absorption  and circulation of the toxin in the system.

This research information is of immense significance as history has witnessed the castor toxin as a biological weapon in Georgi Markov’ assassination.So research studies would be valuable tools to best combat the toxin under the conditions of emergency.

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Apoptosis in castor seed endosperm during germination.

Researchers  have identified that cells in castor bean endosperm follows  apoptosis mechanism during the process of gemination.They were also able to notice that endosperm cells adopt a regularity as the cells in vicinity to cotyledons first face a programmed cell death followed by the cells in vicinity.During this process,scientists found that the catalytic proteases accumulated inside the organelles(intracellular store houses) were released to cytosolic medium to cause the cell death.This research has taken advanced imaging techniques including electron microscopy and immunocytochemistry to understand the castor germination physiology.

Castor physiology is not well studied as other crops at molecular level and hence studies of this type would have a significant impact in understanding the classical germination phenomenon in a systematic way.We can also readily witness that the castor system has evolved in a perfect way to have a control in the turn over of cells for the ultimate management of the system in equilibrium which is often a problematic event in human systems resulting in cancers.

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Castor oil as a biopesticide for storage pests in pulses.

Castor oil is well known for its applications in polymer, lubricant, pharmaceutical and detergent industries etc.However its utility continues in other sectors as well including entomology and pest management.Scientists have recently found that castor oil has pesticidal activity against the storage pest of pulses.Researchers associated with this study have conducted an assay by incubating the pest of cowpea pulse with its castor oil coated diet and monitored the mortality of the actively feeding adults  over variable intervals of time.They were able to observe a mortality of 86% in experimental sets that have been exposed to castor oil for maximum time duration of 72 hours at a highest concentration of 9ml/kg.In addition,those pests that fed have lost their reproductive fertility resulted in a complete block in the pest life cycle. The study also evaluated Hazelnut oil in a parallel way for pesticidal action but proved to be less effective than castor oil.

The experiment appears to be interesting to note castor oil as an effective bio-pesticide for the management of storage pests but a rigorous analysis is required for the spectrum of pesticidal activity and a systemic, physiological impact of castor oil coated pulse diet in humans metabolism in a long run.

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