Book Reviews

β-Glucans as Natural Biological Response Modifiers

"This is an excellent reference book focusing on the wide variety of biological effects of ß-glucans. Despite the ample scientific literature supporting their promising effects as natural biological response modifiers, enthusiasm for ß-glucans as potential therapeutic agents has been tempered by conflicting results, source and structural heterogeneity and lack of understanding of their actions at the molecular level." READ MORE... - G. Rafael Fernandez-Botran, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Louisville

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Troponin: Regulator of Muscle Contraction

"As part of his development of the Ca2+ concept of muscle contraction and relaxation in the 1960s, Setsuro Ebashi discovered the first intracellular Ca2+ binding protein which he named troponin. In 1971 Marion Greaser and John Gergely determined that troponin consisted of three subunits. They named the subunits based on their observed function: TnC bound Ca2+, TnI inhibited actomyosin ATPase activity in the presence or absence of Ca2+ and TnT bound to tropomyosin." READ MORE... - Jack A. Ralln, Ph.D., Department of Physiology & Cell Biology, Ohio State University

"The authors have provided an excellent review of the history of troponin-related studies as well as a comprehensive summary of the protein’s structure and function. Most of the key papers that have led to our currently understood concepts about this protein were summarized. There is considerable subject matter redundancy among the subtopics as often occurs in books with multiple authors, but the quality of the chapters is uniformly high. This book will be a valuable and up to date addition to the muscle protein literature." - Marion Greaser, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

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Genetic, Health and Environmental Impacts Caused by Glyphosate in Ecuador

"It is a great honor for me to recommend the publication and edition of this book entitled: Genetic, health and environmental impacts caused by glyphosate in Ecuador. The book offers a vast revision of knowledge with specific well-detailed research about the genetic, health and environmental impacts caused by glyphosate. Understanding the linkages between each of these interrelated impacts is of sum importance because it provides a holistic, yet detailed overview of the multiple cascading effects that glyphosate produces. Moreover, the book provides useful information about effective methods and techniques, which can be used for ongoing or future research to identify, monitor and consequently mitigate such diverse impacts. I consider that this book will be of great interests for practitioners and students in many of the related research areas, but also I would consider it important for policy and decision makers." - Francisco Benítez Capistros, Ph.D. Fellow/Researcher

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New Approaches in Biological Research

"The volume “New Approaches in Biological Research” edited by Prof. R.P. Sinha and Dr. Richa is a state-of-the-art and timely book covering major aspects of biotechnology in agriculture, industry and medicine published by Nova Science Publishers, New York in 2017 (ISBN: 978-1-53612-139-1). Its 10 chapters focus on bacteria, cyanobacteria, higher plants as well as soil aggregates and biotechnological problems such as the production of biomolecules and molecular genetics.

Dr. Sinha is a professor of Molecular Biology at the Centre of Advanced Study in Botany, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India, where he received his PhD in Biotechnology. In addition to over 23 years of experience in research and teaching, he has visited numerous countries in South America, Europe and Asia. His expertise includes UV radiation in aquatic ecosystems, DNA damage and repair, UV-screening pigments such as mycosporine-like amino acids and scytonemin in cyanobacteria. In addition to being a member of several national and international scientific societies and editorial boards he has published more than 200 papers including original research papers, reviews and book chapters which have generated many citations in excellent scientific journals including Nature and Science.
Dr. Richa received her PhD from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi at Applied Microbiology. She has obtained several fellowships and is a member of various national and international societies. She is the author of numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. Her scientific work focuses on the synthesis and role of photoprotective compounds in cyanobacteria.

The volume discusses modern problems in the areas of molecular biology, stress biology, genomics, proteomics, ecology, plant pathology and focuses on biotechnological approaches used to study photosynthetic organisms from cyanobacteria to higher plants. It describes novel technological advances and instrumentation to solve some of the burning problems in biological sciences.

The first chapter discusses novel approaches in the production and biotechnological significance of phycobiliproteins found in cyanobacteria as well as cryptophytes and red macroalgae. These molecules are red- or blue-colored water soluble pigments consisting of an open chain tetrapyrrole attached to a protein and serve as antenna pigments for the photosynthetic apparatus. Furthermore, they have a growing biotechnological potential and commercial value as food colorants, in cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications. In addition to their fluorescent properties these molecules are used as anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anti-tumor and hepatoprotective agents. The chapter details advanced techniques for the production and extraction of the molecules as well as their potential use in diagnostics, biomedicals, nutrients, cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications.

The following chapter discusses efflux pumps and their inhibitors in gram-negative bacteria which are some of the major sources for hospital-acquired infections such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections. The acquisition of multiple resistances by Gram-negative bacteria towards antibiotica is a major problem in modern hospitals. Therefore research has now focused on the development of synergistic antibiotic combinations in order to reduce the necessary drug doses. Efflux pump inhibitors are promising agents as they have antimicrobial activity as well as the ability to augment the activity of less effective antibiotics.

The chapter on DNA methylation dynamics in plants covers an important epigenetic mechanism that controls many indispensible biochemical functions. It is involved in the repression of gene expression, plays essential roles in plant development and is involved in the defense against biotic and abiotic stresses. The mechanism is carried out by DNA methyl transferase enzymes by RNA-directed methylation. The techniques to determine the methylation status in the genome are explained.

The history, the current status and future developments of bionanotechnology are the topic of the subsequent chapter. After a short characterization of nanotechnology and the various types of nanoparticles, methods of synthesis and applications in medicine, electronics, agriculture, defense, food technology, energy and pollution control are described. Potential applications in the future are discussed such as nano-medicine, carbon nanotubes, nano foods, liposomes, nano pores, nanotube quantum dots, nanoshells, nanobubbles, food packaging and food additives. The chapter also discusses the risks of bionanotechnology.

Chapter 5 deals with the biotechnological insights into plant protease inhibitors with an emphasis on their role in plant defense. These molecules are natural proteins which are instrumental in plant defense against insects and other predators. Insects and microorganisms use proteolysis for digestion which is impaired by the inhibitors. In addition, these protease inhibitors play a key role in medicine for the treatment of immunity-related diseases. Other functions are storage proteins, signaling molecules and the regulation of endogenous proteins. The chapter describes the different families of these inhibitors on the basis of their chemical structure, function and sequence and discusses their mode of action, regulation and application in the development of transgenic plants protected against insect and pest attack.
Soil aggregates are important for soil quality and plant growth. Soil organic carbon together with clay defines the form of soil aggregates. They can be classified according to their size and size distribution which are determined by dry or wet sieving. The formation of soil aggregates is governed by management practices as well as biotic and abiotic factors which determine soil fertility and sustainability. The aggregates facilitate carbon sequestration as well as preventing decomposition of organic substances by microorganisms.

Parasitic weeds such as witchweeds (Sriga spp.) and broomrapes (Orobanche spp. Phelipanche ramose) are pest plants which cause high losses in agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, around the Mediterranean and increasingly in Europe. After infection the seeds of these plants can hardly be removed from the soil but can be controlled by allelopathy. This phenomenon characterizes the effect of one organism on another by releasing chemicals into the environment. Selecting species and strains helps control weeds, insects, nematodes and other pathogens. This can be supported by applying crop rotation, intercropping and push-pull technology. Plant residues and extracts as well as mulches of plants rich in allelochemicals can be applied for parasitic weed management in crops.

Agriculture is plagued by numerous diseases in many different countries. In addition to insects, fungi and bacteria these problems are often caused by various viruses. Papaya is an economically important fruit produced in many tropical and subtropical countries. The trees are seriously attacked by a variety of viruses such as Papaya Mosaic Virus, Begomoviruses, Papaya Leaf Curl Virus, Potyviruses, Papaya Ringspot Virus, Papaya Leaf Distortion Mosaic Virus, Papaya Lethal Yellowing Virus and Papaya Meleira Virus which can affect individual trees or even destroy whole orchards. The chapter lists comprehensively the various viral diseases according to the countries they are found. The symptoms of viral diseases, their transmission methods and possible control measures are also discussed.

Solar UV radiation is a mayor stress factor for microorganisms as well as lower and higher plants. Stratospheric ozone depletion worsened this problem for many photosynthetic organisms which are bound to be exposed to solar light. Cyanobacteria are major biomass producers in almost all terrestrial and aquatic habitats. UV impairs many physiological and biochemical processes, damages DNA and other important biomolecules which absorb in this wavelength band. However cyanobacteria have developed several defense mechanisms including avoidance, synthesis of antioxidants as well as UV-absorbing compounds including mycosporine-like amino acids and scytonemin. Other lines of defense include DNA repair, protein synthesis as well as apoptosis.

The final chapter in the book deals with a modification of the Allen Arnon medium by addition of Neem seed kernel water extract for biomass and biomolecules production and describes the effects on growth, biochemical composition and carbon fixation in several cyanobacteria at different concentrations. Application of the substance resulted in growth stimulation which is more pronounced in heterocystous, filamentous cyanobacteria than in unicellular organisms. E.g., a growth stimulation of more than 400 % could be achieved in Anabaena flos-aquae by an addition of 8 %. The results on carbon fixation, total protein, chlorophyll, carotenoids, phycocyanin, phycoerythrin and allophycocyanin in response to different concentrations of the additive are described.

In summary, the book contains a wide variety of topics in soil, microorganisms and plants. The chapters present state-of-the-art reviews and are written in an informative and educated style. Therefore the volume is highly recommended for students and scholars in the fields of botany, biotechnology, crop and soil sciences." - Dr. Donat-P. Hӓder, Professor Emeritus, Friedrich-Alexander University, Department of Biology, Möhrendorf, Germany

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