Biotech Updates

Scientists Probe Yeast's Ability to Protect Tree Nuts

July 6, 2012

Tree nuts such as almonds, pistachios and walnuts are often attacked by the mold Aspergillus flavus producing a natural carcinogen, aflatoxin. Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service in Albany, California, in search of ways to combat the pathogen conducted a study to determine the possible mechanisms for a yeast to overcome the pathogen.

The researchers exposed the mold to the yeast and through fluorescence assays and other related analysis found that the yeast interfered with the mold's energy-generating ATP (adenosine triphosphate) system, which is important for the mold's survival. They also found out through the analytical procedure quantitative reverse transciptase PCR (polymerase chain reaction) that the yeast damaged the cell walls and cell membranes probably by turning on the two enzymes PaEXG1 and PaEXG2.

This finding could be a prelude in formulating strategies to ensure that tree nuts remain safe to eat through an environmentally friendly way of combating the mold.

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