Native to the eastern U.S., Carolina azolla has excellent potential as a fast-growing, short-season crop that requires minimal input, maintenance and processing, according to Penn State researchers. Is. The plant – sometimes known as mosquito fern, fairy moss and water fern – can be used to increase the food supply. Credit: Penn State. Co-creation

An often-overlooked water plant that can double its biomass in two days, captures nitrogen from the air—making it a valuable green fertilizer—and feeds poultry and livestock that humans can use in the event of a disaster. can act as a life-saving food for Or disaster, suggests a new study led by Penn State researchers.

A plant native to the eastern U.S., Azula carolina Wilde — commonly known as Carolina azolla — can also help. In the near future, according to recent results published I Food Science and Nutrition. The researchers found that the Carolina strain of Azula is more digestible and nutritious for humans than species of Azula that grow in the wild and are also cultivated for livestock feed in Asia and Africa.

The study, led by Daniel Winstead, a research assistant in the labs of Michael Jacobson, professor of ecosystem science and management, and Francisco De Gioia, assistant professor of vegetable crop science, is part of a larger interdisciplinary research project called Food Resilience. College of Agricultural Sciences in the face of catastrophic global events.

“Other species of Azolla have been used around the world for thousands of years. and as a ‘green manure’ to fertilize crops because of the plants’ ability to fix nitrogen,” Jacobson said. “Azolla’s use for human consumption is limited by its high total polyphenolic content. was supposed to interfere with his digestion. But this research shows that the phenolic content of the Carolina strain is very low, and cooking the plant further reduces it.”

Polyphenols, which are abundant compounds found naturally in plants, are beneficial in low concentrations. Because of their antioxidant activity, however, high amounts of polyphenols can limit the body’s absorption of nutrients and act as nutritional defense factors, Jacobson explained. Gallic acid is a stable phenol and has become a standard measure for determining the amount of phenol in food.

In the study, Carolina Azula — described as having a crisp texture and neutral flavor — was grown in a greenhouse on Penn State’s University Park campus. The researchers determined that the total phenolic content of Carolina azolla was about 4.26 grams, gallic acid equivalent per kilogram of dry weight.

That measurement compares to fruits, Winstead points out, which typically range between 1.4 and 6.2. pods 1.2 to 6.6 at; and nuts, between 0.5 and 19. In comparison, he added, other Azolla species grown in Asia and Africa have between 20 and 69 grams of gallic acid equivalent per kilogram of dry weight, which is too much for humans to comfortably digest. Is.

The researchers tested three cooking methods—boiling, pressure cooking, and natural fermentation—that multiple studies have shown can reduce polyphenolic content in foods, aimed at both humans and livestock. The goal is to reduce nutritional factors potentially limiting the use of ajolla. Tests showed that the total phenolic content decreased by 88%, 92% and 62% with fermentation, pressure cooking and natural fermentation, respectively, compared to the raw plant.

Researchers find that shared plants can help reduce food insecurity.

The researchers tested three cooking methods that several studies have shown can reduce the polyphenolic content of foods, with the aim of potentially limiting ajolla intake in diets. Avoidance factors are to be reduced. Credit: Penn State. Co-creation

Carolina azolla—sometimes called mosquito fern, fairy moss, and water fern—has excellent potential as a fast-growing, short-season crop that requires minimal input, maintenance, and processing. is needed, Winstead noted, adding that the plant can be used To increase food supply.

“Our study sheds light on this. and moderate protein content of Carolina azolla and showed that cooking methods readily and significantly reduced total phenolic content.” He said, “The moderate protein and high mineral yield of Azolla makes this species suitable for cultivation. makes it desirable.”

The easy-to-cultivate, fast-growing nature of Azolla makes it an ideal resource for disaster and disaster relief as well as regular use by small farms and low-income areas, the researchers said. It is a multi-purpose wild edible plant that has great potential for economic, agricultural, nutritional and resilience benefits, but needs further development, he said.

“Whether it’s for a ‘quick fix’ solution in disaster scenarios or a long-term resilience plan, Carolina Azula has the potential to provide large amounts of protein and calories for people and livestock.” He said that the plant was also considered for joining the American space program. “If the cultivation and production system of Azula can be made more efficient, its indoor or outdoor cultivation can provide additional nutrient production that is climate-resilient.”

The study is linked to other ongoing systematic reviews by the same Penn State researchers examining regional, resilient, drought-resistant food crops and increased agrobiodiversity as a result of frequent disasters and frequent food system disruptions. take For example, A paper Published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systemslooks at North America’s abundance of now-rarely used wild edible plants that were once widely used by Native Americans.

“Currently, we are conducting assessments in African regions,” Jacobsen said. “Hopefully, uncovering the viability of underutilized plants can help society become more prepared to secure resilient food systems.”

More information:
Daniel Winstead et al., Nutritional properties of raw and cooked Azolla caroliniana Wild, an aquatic wild edible plant, Food Science and Nutrition (2024). DOI: 10.1002/fsn3.3904

Reference: Common plants may help reduce food insecurity, researchers find (2024, February 19) Accessed February 19, 2024 at https://phys.org/news/2024-02-common-food-insecurity. Retrieved from html

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