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Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station

Molecular Targets for Bioactive Food Components Affecting Adipogenesis

Type 2 diabetes mellitus has increased by about 33% over the past decade in the United States, generating higher health care costs, and is related to obesity. Some women undergoing menopause gain belly fat and may have a tendency to develop diabetes. The researchers have shown that a daily soy supplement containing phytoestrogens (weak estrogen-like chemicals) reduces the amount of belly fat in women after menopause compared to a milk shake placebo. Most fat reduction is superficial, but there is also some reduction of deeper belly fat located near abdominal organs.

National Animal Genome Research Program

The genes within the genome (genetic code) of cattle need to be identified and defined before variability of these genes among cattle (individuals and breeds) can be identified. One goal is to determine whether such variations when found are associated with enhanced or decreased resistance to infectious diseases. The cattle genome has been largely sequenced (that is, the genetic code 'read'), and now one of the purposes of the international community effort is to annotate the bovine genome (define genes within the genetic code).

Novel Food-Based Delivery of Butyrate-Enriched Milk Fat for Colon Cancer Prevention

Cancer is a leading cause of human death around the world. It was estimated that 30-70-percent of all cancer cases might be preventable by dietary modification, depending on the dietary components and specific type of cancer. Epidemiological evidence indicates that a diet abundant in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer in some individuals, and this effect has been attributed to bioactive components present in these foods. Many bioactive food components have been studied intensively for possible cancer preventive effects.

Nutrient Bioavailability

The profile of dietary lipids in humans has changed dramatically as agricultural practices have advanced. This change has resulted in major changes in the consumption of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Our ancestors ingested concentrations of these two classes of fatty acids in a 7:1 ratio (comparing dietary omega-6 to omega-3). In Western cultures, the ratio in currently 25:1. This change in dietary lipids is problematic since humans are not able to interconvert (convert from one to the other) omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Nutrient Bioavailability – Phytonutrients and Beyond

Dietary factors are important predictors of long term health and the incidence of chronic disease. Laboratory methods will be employed, primarily in vitro models, such as in vitro digestion and tissue cultures, which will be used to evaluate the bioactivity of nutrients and other food bioactives to understand the mechanisms. The investigator will seek to advance the science of defining the role of bioactive dietary constituents for optimal human health. This will provide fertile grounds for ongoing collaborations and future collaborative research and grant proposal development.

Plant Parasitic Nematode Management as a Component of Sustainable Soil Health

The recent removal of fenamiphos from availability leaves golf course superintendents with no effective management for plant parasitic nematodes. Fenamiphos was the only effective nematicide registered for use on golf greens in the United States. However, the LD50 of fenamiphos is in the single digits and therefore difficult and risky to applicators and non-target organisms.  There have been a number of commercially-available products and experimental products offered as fenamiphos-alternatives.

Post-Harvest Physiology of Fruits

Preharvest drop of fruit can result in losses to a grower that may exceed 50% of the total crop. There is a need to find effective ways to keep fruit on the tree until it achieves an acceptable level of quality and maturity. Compounds that can potentially be used to influence preharvest drop are also known to affect ripening and fruit quality. Therefore, the effect of strategies that control preharvest drop must also be evaluated for their effects on fruit quality and storage potential.

Prevention of Colon Cancer by Combinations of Dietary Components

Accumulating evidence suggests that, due to possible synergistic interactions, the intake of combined bioactive dietary components may provide enhanced cancer preventive effects relative to the intake of an isolated pure compound. Thus, utilization of combinations of bioactive dietary components is an attractive strategy for cancer prevention. However, there is currently only relatively limited understanding of the interactions among different bioactive dietary components and their collective manifestations on bioactivity.

Private and Public Strategies and the Performance of Food Markets Along the Supply Chain

A key aspect of food markets are their vertical structures: products move along supply chains from manufacturers (or farmers) to wholesalers to retailers or food service operators to consumers. Interactions among firms in these chains give rise to a variety of economic issues that are no less important than those studied in horizontal interaction (i.e. firms competing for the same end consumer), yet previous work has tended to focus on the latter.

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