Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Plant-Based Foods: From In Natura Prospection to Biological and Technological Application

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Phytochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2024 | Viewed by 5143

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
1. Department of Food Science and Experimental Nutrition, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
2. Food and Nutrition Research Center (NAPAN), University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
3. Food Research Center (FoRC), CEPID-FAPESP (Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers, São Paulo Research Foundation), São Paulo, SP, Brazil
Interests: plant physiology; food biochemistry; food processing; bioactive compounds; nanoencapsulation; polysaccharides; non-chronic diseases; circular economy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to present this Special Issue related to the chemistry and biochemistry of in natura plant foods or plant-based foods. Currently, society is seeking plants or plant-based foods for ideological and/or nutritional purposes. In the present issue, we will highlight not only chemical and biochemical studies (from the perspective of plant physiology) on plant food that is already consumed by humans, but which also cover the prospection of new plants for food. Studies at all stages of plant development (vegetative and reproductive phases: growth, ripening, and senescence) will be considered. Studies with omics techniques (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics) to unravel the biochemical pathways of plant developmental stages will also be underlined. The issue will also focus on the identification and use of non-conventional food plants (PANCS) and the physiological studies of these plants. In addition, the Special Issue will address the use of plant parts to produce processed foods with unique plant-derived ingredients, whether to increase shelf life or nutritional value, and the development of new processed foods. Prospective studies of new raw materials to create new plant-based foods with unique and peculiar characteristics, and physical-chemical and nutritional studies (structure, digestibility, nutritional value) will also be considered. New technologies and nutritional studies encompassing alternative vegetable proteins and nanoencapsulation techniques exclusively using plant materials are welcome. Finally, this Special Issue will consider the application and analysis of the biological effects of plant-derived bioactive compounds that could be used as food supplements (phenolics, polysaccharides, terpenes, proteins, minerals, and vitamins).

Prof. Dr. João Paulo Fabi
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • plant foods
  • plant-based foods
  • plant physiology
  • food biochemistry
  • food processing
  • PANCS
  • bioactive compounds
  • alternative proteins
  • nanoencapsulation

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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20 pages, 2799 KiB  
Article
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Fingerprints and Mini DNA Markers for the Authentication of Cinnamon Species Ingredients Used in Food and Natural Health Products
by Subramanyam Ragupathy, Arunachalam Thirugnanasambandam, Varathan Vinayagam and Steven G. Newmaster
Plants 2024, 13(6), 841; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13060841 - 14 Mar 2024
Viewed by 432
Abstract
Cinnamomum verum (syn C. zeylanicum) is considered ‘true’ cinnamon. However, it is reported that less expensive sources of cinnamon from C. cassia (syn C. aromaticum), C. loureiroi, and C. burmannii (toxic coumarin) may be used in the place of C. [...] Read more.
Cinnamomum verum (syn C. zeylanicum) is considered ‘true’ cinnamon. However, it is reported that less expensive sources of cinnamon from C. cassia (syn C. aromaticum), C. loureiroi, and C. burmannii (toxic coumarin) may be used in the place of C. verum. We lack the quality assurance tools that are required to differentiate C. verum from other cinnamon species when verifying that the correct species is sourced from ingredient suppliers. The current research on cinnamon species authentication using DNA tools is limited to a few species and the use of high-quality DNA extracted from raw leaf materials. The cinnamon bark traded in the supply chain contains much less DNA and poorer-quality DNA than leaves. Our research advances DNA methods to authenticate cinnamon, as we utilized full-length chloroplast genomes via a genome skimming approach for C. burmannii and C. cassia to facilitate the design of optimal mini DNA markers. Furthermore, we developed and validated the use of NMR fingerprints for several commercial cinnamon species, including the quantification of 16 molecules. NMR fingerprints provided additional data that were useful for quality assessment in cinnamon extract powders and product consistency. Both the new mini DNA markers and NMR fingerprints were tested on commercial cinnamon products. Full article
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16 pages, 863 KiB  
Article
Bioactive Compounds Intake of the Brazilian Population According to Geographic Region
by Renata A. Carnauba, Flavia M. Sarti, Neuza M. A. Hassimotto and Franco M. Lajolo
Plants 2023, 12(13), 2414; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12132414 - 22 Jun 2023
Viewed by 943
Abstract
Studies have been conducted in order to estimate bioactive compound consumption across populations, with substantial disparities according to the origin of the cohort examined. In this sense, Brazil is a continental country with marked differences in food plant availability across geographic regions. We [...] Read more.
Studies have been conducted in order to estimate bioactive compound consumption across populations, with substantial disparities according to the origin of the cohort examined. In this sense, Brazil is a continental country with marked differences in food plant availability across geographic regions. We aimed to estimate the bioactive compound intake according to Brazilian geographic region, as well as to determine the major contributors. Data were obtained from the National Dietary Survey 2017–2018, a cross-sectional population-based study including data on the individual food intake of 46,164 subjects aged ≥10 years. The consumption of polyphenols (total and classes) was significantly higher in the South compared with other regions (p = 0.0001). Total carotenoid intake was higher in the Midwest, followed by the Southeast (p = 0.0001). Tea was the main supplier of total polyphenol intake in the South, whereas coffee contributed the most to total polyphenol intake in other Brazilian regions. Açaí, caja juice, mango and corn were important suppliers of carotenoid intake in the North and Northeast. Bioactive compound intake presented variations according to Brazilian region, and individuals living in the South, Midwest and Southeast may experience higher bioactive-dense diets. We highlight the potential of many food plants for sustained explorations to the development of marketable products, possibly increasing the bioactive compound intake. Full article
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22 pages, 32377 KiB  
Article
Performance of Hop Cultivars Grown with Artificial Lighting under Subtropical Conditions
by Nathalia Rodrigues Leles, Alessandro Jefferson Sato, Leo Rufato, Jessiane Mary Jastrombek, Viviani Vieira Marques, Robson Fernando Missio, Nelson Luis Mello Fernandes and Sergio Ruffo Roberto
Plants 2023, 12(10), 1971; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12101971 - 12 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1326
Abstract
The objective of this study was to determine the duration of the main phenological stages, plant growth development, yield, and cone quality of hop cultivars grown under artificial light (17 h per day) during vegetative development (early season) in a subtropical climate region. [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to determine the duration of the main phenological stages, plant growth development, yield, and cone quality of hop cultivars grown under artificial light (17 h per day) during vegetative development (early season) in a subtropical climate region. The study was conducted in Palotina, Paraná, Brazil (24° S), during the 2021 and 2022 growing seasons. The plants were cultivated in a 5.5 m high trellis system with artificial light supplementation during vegetative development. The hop cultivars Hallertau Mittelfrüher, Mapuche, Northern Brewer, Spalter, and Yakima Gold were used in the treatments. The duration of the phenological stages, vegetative growth (plant height, fresh mass of the plants, number of lateral branches per plant), components of productive yield (number of cones per side branch, number of cones per plant, fresh mass, length, and width of the cone, production of fresh cones per plant, and yield), and chemical components of the cones (alpha- and beta-acid contents, and essential oil concentrations) were recorded. The duration of the phenological stages was visually evaluated, and plant growth was analyzed using non-linear log-logistic regression. The remaining data were subjected to analysis of variance and the means were compared using Tukey’s test. The data were also subjected to multivariate analysis using the principal components test, correlation analysis, and hierarchical grouping. The cultivar Mapuche was considered an early hop in both seasons, and the cultivars Spalter and Yakima Gold were considered early cultivars in the second season. In both seasons, the productive yield components were positively correlated with the precocity of the cultivars, in which Mapuche in the 2021 season and Mapuche, Spalter, and Yakima Gold in the 2022 season had the highest mean of the number of cones per side branch and per plant, production per plant, and productivity. The cultivar Yakima Gold had a positive correlation with the chemical quality of cones, alpha and beta acid contents, and essential oil concentrations, for both seasons. Full article
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Review

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21 pages, 1872 KiB  
Review
Unveiling Plant-Based Pectins: Exploring the Interplay of Direct Effects, Fermentation, and Technological Applications in Clinical Research with a Focus on the Chemical Structure
by Lucas de Freitas Pedrosa, Karen Rebouças Nascimento, Caroline Giacomelli Soares, Débora Preceliano de Oliveira, Paul de Vos and João Paulo Fabi
Plants 2023, 12(14), 2750; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12142750 - 24 Jul 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1859
Abstract
Pectin, a plant-derived polysaccharide, possesses immense technological and biological application value. Several variables influence pectin’s physicochemical aspects, resulting in different fermentations, interactions with receptors, and other functional properties. Some of those variables are molecular weight, degree of methylation and blockiness, and monosaccharide composition. [...] Read more.
Pectin, a plant-derived polysaccharide, possesses immense technological and biological application value. Several variables influence pectin’s physicochemical aspects, resulting in different fermentations, interactions with receptors, and other functional properties. Some of those variables are molecular weight, degree of methylation and blockiness, and monosaccharide composition. Cancer cell cytotoxicity, important fermentation-related byproducts, immunomodulation, and technological application were found in cell culture, animal models, and preclinical and clinical assessments. One of the greater extents of recent pectin technological usage involves nanoencapsulation methods for many different compounds, ranging from chemotherapy and immunotherapy to natural extracts from fruits and other sources. Structural modification (modified pectin) is also utilized to enhance the use of dietary fiber. Although pectin is already recognized as a component of significant importance, there is still a need for a comprehensive review that delves into its intricate relationships with biological effects, which depend on the source and structure of pectin. This review covers all levels of clinical research, including cell culture, animal studies, and clinical trials, to understand how the plant source and pectin structures influence the biological effects in humans and some technological applications of pectin regarding human health. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Performance of hop cultivars grown with artificial light supplementation in subtropical region
Authors: Sergio Ruffo Roberto <[email protected]>
Affiliation: Agronomy Department, Universidade Estadual de Londrina (UEL), Londrina 86057-970, PR, Brazil
Abstract: The aim of this study was to characterize the phenology, plant growth potential, yield components and cone quality of hop cultivars grown under supplemental (artificial) lighting in a subtropical climate region. The study was carried out in Palotina, Paraná, Brazil, during the 2021 and 2022 growing seasons. Plants were grown in a trellis system 5 m high and with artificial light supplementation with LED lamps during the vegetative development of the plants (early season), totaling 17 h of light per day. The following hop cultivars were assessed: a) Hallertau Mittelfrüher; b) Mapuche; c) Northern Brewer; d) Spalter; e) Yakima Gold. Phenology, vegetative development (plant height; plant fresh mass; number of side branches per plant), productive yield components (number of cones per side shoot; number of cones per plant; fresh mass of the cone; length and width of the cone; length of the rachis of the cone; number of bracts per cone; production of cones per plant; productivity per hectare) and the chemical components of the cones (alpha-acid content; beta-acid content; oil content essential). The dataset were subjected to analysis of variance and the means compared using the Tukey test (P<0.05). In the 2021 season, the cv. Mapuche had an early behavior in terms of the phenological stages of emergence of inflorescences and flowering and the time required to reach the final height of the trellis, while the cv. Yakima Gold cultivar had a late performance. Concomitantly, the cv. Mapuche had the highest means for most components of productive yield, with the highest production per plant and yield, unlike the cv. Yakima Gold. However, the cvs. Mapuche and Yakima Gold had the highest levels of alpha- and beta-acids and essential oils, not differing in terms of the chemical quality of the cones. Therefore, it is concluded that under artificial light supplementation in the subtropical region, the cv. Mapuche, considered earlier, presented better agronomic performance, while the later cv. Yakima Gold had lower performance. Intermediate cvs. such as Hallertau Mittelfruher and Spalter had intermediate agronomic performance.

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