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    ABSTRACT: Demand for organic foods is partially driven by consumers' perceptions that they are more nutritious. However, scientific opinion is divided on whether there are significant nutritional differences between organic and non-organic foods, and two recent reviews have concluded that there are no differences. In the present study, we carried out meta-analyses based on 343 peer-reviewed publications that indicate statistically significant and meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops/crop-based foods. Most importantly, the concentrations of a range of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were found to be substantially higher in organic crops/crop-based foods, with those of phenolic acids, flavanones, stilbenes, flavones, flavonols and anthocyanins being an estimated 19 (95 % CI 5, 33) %, 69 (95 % CI 13, 125) %, 28 (95 % CI 12, 44) %, 26 (95 % CI 3, 48) %, 50 (95 % CI 28, 72) % and 51 (95 % CI 17, 86) % higher, respectively. Many of these compounds have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including CVD and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers, in dietary intervention and epidemiological studies. Additionally, the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was found to be four times higher in conventional crops, which also contained significantly higher concentrations of the toxic metal Cd. Significant differences were also detected for some other (e.g. minerals and vitamins) compounds. There is evidence that higher antioxidant concentrations and lower Cd concentrations are linked to specific agronomic practices (e.g. non-use of mineral N and P fertilisers, respectively) prescribed in organic farming systems. In conclusion, organic crops, on average, have higher concentrations of antioxidants, lower concentrations of Cd and a lower incidence of pesticide residues than the non-organic comparators across regions and production seasons.
    The British journal of nutrition. 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) cv. Santé was grown over 2 years under both conventional and organic fertiliser and crop protection regimes. The tuber metabolome was analysed using mass-spectrometry (MS) based approaches, principally liquid chromatography (LC)–MS and gas chromatography (GC)–MS. Data were analysed using Principal Components Analysis (PCA) and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) to assess any differences between production practices. GC–MS analysis of non-polar metabolites did not detect any statistically significant differences, but GC–MS analysis of polar compounds identified 83 metabolites showing significant differences in the metabolome between the fertiliser treatments. Of the 62 metabolites that were less abundant in tuber samples from organic compared with conventionally fertilised crops, consistent year on year differences were dominated by free amino acids. The effect on free amino acids is associated with the lower nitrogen (N) content of the organically grown potatoes in this instance (50 % lower than for conventional production). LC–MS provided indications that levels of certain glycoalkaloids may be lower under the organic fertiliser regime in one growing season. Differences associated with the crop protection measures used were much less consistent, and relatively small, compared with the fertiliser effects found.
    Metabolomics 04/2014; 10(2). · 4.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: 'Omics analysis (transcriptomics, proteomics) quantifies changes in gene/protein expression, providing a snapshot of changes in biochemical pathways over time. Although tools such as modelling that are needed to investigate the relationships between genes/proteins already exist, they are rarely utilised. We consider the potential for using Structural Equation Modelling to investigate protein-protein interactions in a proposed Rubisco protein degradation pathway using previously published data from 2D electrophoresis and mass spectrometry proteome analysis. These informed the development of a prior model that hypothesised a pathway of Rubisco Large Subunit and Small Subunit degradation, producing both primary and secondary degradation products. While some of the putative pathways were confirmed by the modelling approach, the model also demonstrated features that had not been originally hypothesised. We used Bayesian analysis based on Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulation to generate output statistics suggesting that the model had replicated the variation in the observed data due to protein-protein interactions. This study represents an early step in the development of approaches that seek to enable the full utilisation of information regarding the dynamics of biochemical pathways contained within proteomics data. As these approaches gain attention, they will guide the design and conduct of experiments that enable 'Omics modelling to become a common place practice within molecular biology.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(2):e87597. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Meta-analyses are methods to combine outcomes from different studies in order to investigate consistent effects of relatively small magnitude, which are difficult to distinguish from random variation within a single study. Several published meta-analyses addressed whether organic and conventional production methods affect the composition of plant foods differently. The meta-analyses were carried out using different options for the methodology, and resulted in different conclusions. The types of designs of field trials and farm comparisons widely used in horticultural and agronomic research differ substantially from the clinical trials and epidemiological studies that most meta-analysis methodologies were developed for. Due to this it is proposed to carry out a systematic review and meta-analysis aiming to develop a consolidated methodology. If successful, this methodology can then be used to determine effects of different production systems on plant food composition as well as other comparable factors with small but systematic effects across studies.
    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 05/2013; · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Very little is known about the effects of an organic or conventional diet on animal physiology and health. Here we report the effect of contrasting crop protection (with or without chemosynthetic pesticides) and fertilization (manure or mineral fertilizers) regimes on feed composition and growth and physiological parameters of rats. The use of manure instead of mineral fertilizers in feed production resulted in lower concentrations of protein (18.8 vs. 20.6 %) and cadmium (3.33 vs. 4.92 µg/100g) but higher concentrations of polyphenols (1.46 vs. 0.89 g/100g) in feeds and higher body protein (22.0 vs. 21.5 %), body ash (3.59 vs. 3.51 %), white blood cell count (10.86 vs. 8.19 ×10(3)/mm(3)), plasma glucose (7.23 vs. 6.22 mmol/L), leptin (3.56 vs. 2.78 ng/mL), insulin-like growth factor 1 (1.87 vs. 1.28 µg/mL), corticosterone (247 vs. 209 ng/mL) and spontaneous lymphocyte proliferation (11.14 vs. 5.03 ×10(3) cpm) but lower plasma testosterone (1.07 vs. 1.97 ng/mL) and mitogen stimulated proliferation of lymphocytes (182 vs. 278 ×10(3) cpm) in rats. There were no main effects of crop protection, but a range of significant interactions between fertilization and crop protection occurred.
    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 01/2013; 61:1017-1029. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Over the last century, intakes of omega-6 (ω-6) fatty acids in Western diets have dramatically increased, while omega-3 (ω-3) intakes have fallen. Resulting ω-6/ω-3 intake ratios have risen to nutritionally undesirable levels, generally 10 to 15, compared to a possible optimal ratio near 2.3. We report results of the first large-scale, nationwide study of fatty acids in U.S. organic and conventional milk. Averaged over 12 months, organic milk contained 25% less ω-6 fatty acids and 62% more ω-3 fatty acids than conventional milk, yielding a 2.5-fold higher ω-6/ω-3 ratio in conventional compared to organic milk (5.77 vs. 2.28). All individual ω-3 fatty acid concentrations were higher in organic milk-α-linolenic acid (by 60%), eicosapentaenoic acid (32%), and docosapentaenoic acid (19%)-as was the concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (18%). We report mostly moderate regional and seasonal variability in milk fatty acid profiles. Hypothetical diets of adult women were modeled to assess milk fatty-acid-driven differences in overall dietary ω-6/ω-3 ratios. Diets varied according to three choices: high instead of moderate dairy consumption; organic vs. conventional dairy products; and reduced vs. typical consumption of ω-6 fatty acids. The three choices together would decrease the ω-6/ω-3 ratio among adult women by ∼80% of the total decrease needed to reach a target ratio of 2.3, with relative impact "switch to low ω-6 foods" > "switch to organic dairy products" ≈ "increase consumption of conventional dairy products." Based on recommended servings of dairy products and seafoods, dairy products supply far more α-linolenic acid than seafoods, about one-third as much eicosapentaenoic acid, and slightly more docosapentaenoic acid, but negligible docosahexaenoic acid. We conclude that consumers have viable options to reduce average ω-6/ω-3 intake ratios, thereby reducing or eliminating probable risk factors for a wide range of developmental and chronic health problems.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(12):e82429. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The performance of winter wheat was evaluated under organic (ORG) and conventional (CON) management systems in the Nafferton Factorial Systems Comparison (NFSC) long-term field trial. The present study separates out the crop protection and fertility management components of organic and conventional production systems using two levels each of crop protection (CP) and fertility management (FM). The experimental design provided the four combinations of crop protection and fertility (CON-CP CON-FM, CON-CP ORG-FM, ORG-CP CON-FM and ORG-CP ORG-FM) to evaluate their effects on yield, quality (protein content and hectolitre weight) and disease levels during the period 2004–2008. The conventional management system (CON-CP CON-FM) out-yielded the organic management system (ORG-CP ORG-FM) in all years by an average of 3.1 t ha−1, i.e. 7.9 t ha−1 vs. 4.8 t ha−1. Fertility management was the key factor identified limiting both yield and grain protein content in the ORG management system. The CON-FM produced on average a 3% higher protein content than ORG-FM in all years (12.5% vs. 9.7%). However the ORG-CP system produced higher protein levels than CON-CP although it was only in 2008 that this was statistically significant. In contrast to protein content it was ORG-FM which produced a higher hectolitre weight than the CON-FM system (71.6 kg hl−1 vs. 71.0 kg hl−1). The clear and significant differences in yield and protein content between the ORG-FM and CON-FM systems suggest a limited supply of available N in the organic fertility management system which is also supported by the significant interaction effect of the preceding crop on protein content. The pRDA showed that although fertilisation had the greatest effect on yield, quality and disease there was also a considerable effect of crop protection and the environment.
    European Journal of Agronomy 01/2013; 51:71-60. · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is increasing concern that the intensification of dairy production reduces the concentrations of nutritionally desirable compounds in milk. This study therefore compared important quality parameters (protein and fatty acid profiles; α-tocopherol and carotenoid concentrations) in milk from four dairy systems with contrasting production intensities (in terms of feeding regimens and milking systems). The concentrations of several nutritionally desirable compounds (β-lactoglobulin, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-3/omega-6 ratio, conjugated linoleic acid c9t11, and/or carotenoids) decreased with increasing feeding intensity (organic outdoor ≥ conventional outdoor ≥ conventional indoors). Milking system intensification (use of robotic milking parlors) had a more limited effect on milk composition, but increased mastitis incidence. Multivariate analyses indicated that differences in milk quality were mainly linked to contrasting feeding regimens and that milking system and breed choice also contributed to differences in milk composition between production systems.
    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 06/2012; 60(29):7270-81. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the European integrated research project SAFEFOODS, one of the aims was to further establish the potential of transcriptomics for the assessment of differences between plant varieties grown under different environmental conditions. Making use of the knowledge of cellular processes and interactions is one of the ways to obtain a better understanding of the differences found with transcriptomics. For the present study the potato genotype Santé was grown under both organic and conventional fertilizer, and each combined with either organic or conventional crop protection, giving four different treatments. Samples were derived from the European project QualityLowInputFood (QLIF). Microarray data were analyzed using different statistical tools (multivariate, principal components analysis (PCA); univariate, analysis of variance (ANOVA)) and with pathway analysis (hypergeometric distribution (HGD) and gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA)). Several biological processes were implicated as a result of the different treatments of the plants. Most obvious were the lipoxygenase pathway, with higher expression in organic fertilizer and lower expression in organic crop protection; the starch synthase pathway, with higher expression in both organic crop protection and fertilizer; and the biotic stress pathway, with higher expression in organic fertilizer. This study confirmed that gene expression profiling in combination with pathway analysis can identify and characterize differences between plants grown under different environmental conditions.
    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 03/2012; 60(9):2090-101. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The effects of organic versus conventional crop management practices (crop rotation, crop protection, and fertility management strategies) on wheat yields and grain metal (Al, Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn) concentrations were investigated in a long-term field trial. The interactions between crop management practices and the season that the crop was grown were investigated using univariate and redundancy analysis approaches. Grain yields were highest where conventional fertility management and crop protection practices were used, but growing wheat after a previous crop of grass/clover was shown to partially compensate for yield reductions due to the use of organic fertility management. All metals except for Pb were significantly affected by crop management practices and the year that the wheat was grown. Grain Cd and Cu levels were higher on average when conventional fertility management practices were used. Al and Cu were higher on average when conventional crop protection practices were used. The results demonstrate that there is potential to manage metal concentrations in the diet by adopting specific crop management practices shown to affect crop uptake of metals.
    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 05/2011; 59(9):4715-24. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cereal stubbles are a preferred foraging habitat for overwintering granivorous farmland bird species. Levels of this habitat have declined in recent decades across much of western Europe with increasing agricultural intensification. Organic farms typically hold more stubble fields than conventional farms and thus may provide important refuges for wintering birds. However, while organic stubble fields often contain higher food densities than conventional stubble fields, the more complex vegetation structure associated with organic farming may decrease use by birds. Bird use, vegetation characteristics and seed densities were measured on stubble plots managed under four strategies (Organic [organic fertiliser only and no chemical pesticides], Conventional [inorganic fertiliser and chemical pesticides], NOFERT [organic fertiliser only and chemical pesticides) and NOPEST [inorganic fertiliser and no chemical pesticides]). Skylarks foraged most frequently on stubbles which received no pesticide applications which also had the highest weed seed densities. Plots receiving either inorganic or organic fertiliser applications did not differ in terms of use by skylarks, weed seed density or diversity, or vegetation structure. Plot use by yellowhammers was not significantly related to pesticide or fertiliser applications. Possible reasons for this are discussed. Results suggest that the main benefit of organic stubble fields for birds is via reduced pesticide inputs. Use of inorganic fertilisers is also beneficial for birds via increased weed seed densities, but to a lesser extent.
    Basic and Applied Ecology - BASIC APPL ECOL. 01/2011; 12(1):80-88.
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    ABSTRACT: Since the mid 1990s, microarray analysis has become one of the few tools that can analyze the entire contents of a cell regarding a specific information type. Especially since the development of whole genome microarrays the technique can be considered truly holistic. Most DNA based microarrays are used for the analysis of the total of messenger RNAs (transcriptome) and provide a snap-shot of what's going on in a cell population at the time of sampling. Within the last few years also full genome plant microarrays have become available for several crop species. With these it has been shown that several growing conditions can be separated based on their transcriptome pattern, such as location, year of harvest and agricultural input system, but also different cultivars of the same crop species, including genetically modified ones. A database comprising expression levels of the transcriptome in many different circumstances with a history of safe use would be a good comparator for evaluation of new agricultural practices or cultivars, genetically modified or otherwise obtained. New techniques as next generation sequencing may overcome issues on throughput time and cost, standard operation procedures and array design for individual crops.
    Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 12/2010; 58(3 Suppl):S21-5. · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract The impact of soil type, long-term soil management, and short-term fertility input strategies on the suppressiveness of soils against soil-borne (Ocimum basilicum – Rhizoctonia solani, Lepidium sativum – Pythium ultimum) as well as air-borne (Lycopersicon esculentum – Phytophthora infestans, Arabidopsis thaliana – Hyaloperonospora parasitica) diseases was studied. Soils from field trials established in five European sites with contrasting pedo-climatic conditions were examined. Sites included (i) a long-term management field trial comparing organic and conventional farming systems (DOK-trial, Therwil, Switzerland) (ii) a short-term fertility input field trial comparing mineral and organic matter fertilisation regimes (Bonn (BON), Germany) (iii) two short-term fertility input field trials (Stockbridge (STC) and Tadcaster (TAD), UK) comparing the impact of farmyard manure, composted farmyard manure, and chicken manure pellet amendements and (iv) soil from a site used as a reference (Reckenholz (REC), Switzerland). Soil type affected disease suppressiveness of the four pathosystems signficantly, indicating that soils can not only affect the development of soil-borne, but also the resistance of plants to air-borne diseases at relevant levels. Suppressiveness to soil- and air-borne diseases was shown to be affected by soil type, but also by long-term management as well as short-term fertility inputs.
    European Journal of Plant Pathology 01/2010; 127:465-481. · 1.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Conventional agricultural systems should not only produce much greater amounts of food, feed, fibre and energy to meet the global needs, but also challenge problems to improve health and social well-being of man, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, adapt to climate change and extreme weather, reduce environmental degradation and decline in the quality of soil, water, air and land resources throughout the world as well. The present one-dimensional physical and chemical production systems should be replaced by an agricultural paradigm that rely more on biology, ecology and sociology, and meet global food needs based on the soil, water, land and fertility resources without compromising the capacity of future generations in meeting their environmental, food and resource needs. Organic agriculture as an alternative to conventional systems of food production should contain features of agricultural systems that promote the environmentally, socially and economically sound production of food and fibre, and aim to optimize quality at all levels. The underlying principles are to minimize the use of external inputs as far as possible and use of resources and practices that enhance the balance of ecosystems and integrate components of farming systems into an ecological system. Organic agriculture is developing rapidly and the organic land area is increased by almost 1.8 million hectares compared to the consolidated data from 2005. Worldwide, in 2006, over 30.4 million hectares were managed organically by more than 700000 farms, constituting 0.65 percent of the agricultural land of the countries surveyed. Recognizing the ecological principles, self-regulating ability and system stability, agro-biodiversity, climate change and global warming, soil nutrients and soil biology, erosion, nonchemical crop protection and generally agroecosystem health are the most significant ecological and environmental issues regarding production systems. Organic agriculture in farming, processing, distribution or consumption is to sustain and enhance the process of food safety and health at all stages and levels of the agroecosystem in order to prevent serious food safety hazards such as pathogens like prions (BSE), allergens, mycotoxins, dioxins, GMOs, pesticide residues, growth hormones, food additives like colorants, preservatives, flavours, process aids, nitrite added to processed meat, salt, added sugar and saturated fat. There are growing evidences suggesting that organic agricultural systems produce enough quantity and quality foods and have a number of ecological, environmental and health advantages for consumers over food from conventional systems. KeywordsOrganic farming-Biodiversity-Climate change-CO2-Soil carbon-N2O-Methane-Soil microbial biomass-Erosion-Food quality
    11/2009: pages 77-107;
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    ABSTRACT: Common lambsquarters is an important annual weed of many crops world-wide. Ascochyta caulina is a plant pathogenic fungus that, under natural conditions, causes necrotic spots on the leaves and stems of Chenopodium species. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of weed growth stage, relative humidity, dew period, and temperature on the infection of A. caulina isolates against common lambsquarters. In greenhouse experiments, replicated groups of common lambsquarters plants were sprayed with different isolates of A. caulina 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 wk after emergence. Both disease severity and pathogen-induced dry weight reduction decreased with plant age. The efficacy of all isolates tested was reduced by high leaf-to-air vapor-pressure deficit. Disease severity was more responsive to relative humidity than temperature. However, a minimum dew period of 6 h was required to cause significant disease severity in common lambsquarters. Among all tested A. caulina isolates, W90–1 gave the highest disease scores under all conditions, with the exception of temperatures ≤15 C. Nomenclature: Ascochyta caulina (P. Karst) v.d. Aa & v Kest.; common lambsquarters, Chenopodium album L. CHEAL.
    Weed Science 09/2009; · 1.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The use of profiling techniques such as transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics has been proposed to improve the detection of side effects of plant breeding processes. This paper describes the construction of a food safety-oriented potato cDNA microarray (FSPM). Microarray analysis was performed on a well-defined set of tuber samples of two different potato varieties, grown under different, well-recorded environmental conditions. Data were analyzed to assess the potential of transcriptomics to detect differences in gene expression due to genetic differences or environmental conditions. The most pronounced differences were found between the varieties Sante and Lady Balfour, whereas differences due to growth conditions were less significant. Transcriptomics results were confirmed by quantitative PCR. Furthermore, the bandwidth of natural variation of gene expression was explored to facilitate biological and/or toxicological evaluation in future assessments.
    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 02/2009; 57(4):1612-23. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Different conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) isomers are known to have contrasting physiology or health effects and there is growing evidence that the profile of natural isomers in milk is influenced by the production system. This survey is the first to compare feeding regimes and concentrations of 14 CLA isomers inmilk from three production systems in the UK. RESULTS: Total CLA and seven isomers (including C18 : 2 c9t11 which comprised >80% of total) were significantly higher in milk from both organically certified and non certified low input (LI) systems compared with milk from conventional high input farms. Sampling date also affected concentrations of total CLA and nine isomers; being lowest in March and highest in August. Seasonal differences were greater in milk from LI herds, thought to be due to changes in herbage and/or stage of lactation. Multivariate analysis showed a strong positive relationship between several CLA isomers and increasing levels of fresh forage in the diet. CONCLUSIONS: These results add to the evidence on how management adjustment may improve the profile of CLA isomers in milk fat, although animal or human intervention studies are required to identify the effects of consuming milk with different CLA levels and isomer profiles on human health. (c) 2009 Society of Chemical Industry
    Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 01/2009; · 1.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Previous studies showed differences in fatty acid (FA) and antioxidant profiles between organic and conventional milk. However, they did not (a) investigate seasonal differences, (b) include non-organic, lowinput systems or (c) compare individual carotenoids, stereoisomers of α-tocopherol or isomers of conjugated linoleic acid. This survey-based study compares milk from three production systems: (i) high-input, conventional (10 farms); (ii) low-input, organic (10 farms); and (iii) low-input non-organic (5 farms). Samples were taken during the outdoor grazing (78 samples) and indoor periods (31 samples). RESULTS: During the outdoor grazing period, on average, milk from the low-input systems had lower saturated FAs, but higher mono- and polyunsaturated FA concentrations compared with milk from the high-input system. Milk from both the low-input organic and non-organic systems had significantly higher concentrations of nutritionally desirable FAs and antioxidants – conjugated linoleic (60% and 99%, respectively) and α-linolenic (39% and 31%, respectively) acids, α-tocopherol (33% and 50%, respectively) and carotenoids (33% and 80%, respectively) – compared with milk from the high-input system. Milk composition differed significantly between the two low-input systems during the second half of the grazing period only; withmilk from non-organic cows being higher in antioxidants, and conjugated linoleic acid, and that from organic cows in α-linolenic acid. In contrast, few significant differences in composition were detected between high-input and low-input organic systems when cows were housed. CONCLUSIONS: Milk composition is affected by production systems by mechanisms likely to be linked to the stage and length of the grazing period, and diet composition, which will influence subsequent processing, and sensory and potential nutritional qualities of the milk. (c) 2008 Society of Chemical Industry
    Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 01/2008; · 1.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A number of fine root pathogens, including Phytophthora cinnamomi, Pythium ultimum var. ultimum, Pythium undulatum, Pythium violae, Fusarium sp., and two incompletely identified Verticillium species, were isolated from soils taken from under Scots pine trees at five sites in north Scotland, including semi-natural forests and plantations. At least two root pathogens were recovered from each forest. Morphological and molecular data supported the identification of Phytophthora cinnamomi from three of the sites investigated. Isolates of Phytophthora cinnamomi, Pythium ultimum var. ultimum and an incompletely identified Fusarium sp. caused growth reductions of Scots pine seedlings, as determined by dry weight; the most virulent species were Phytophthora cinnamomi and Fusarium sp. The most severe disease symptoms were caused by a mixed inoculum containing Phytophthora cinnamomi, Pythium ultimum var. ultimum and Fusarium sp., or by the Fusarium isolate alone. These nonspecific pathogens may persist on the roots of understorey and herbaceous plants in the pine forests.
    FEMS Microbiology Letters 12/2007; 276(1):67-74. · 2.05 Impact Factor

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