Save the bees with Brassicaceae seeds

Two 2021 papers, with the first studying bee infections:

“Fungus Nosema ceranae represents one of the primary bee infection threats worldwide, and antibiotic fumagillin is the only registered product for nosemosis disease control. Natural bioactive compounds deriving from glucosinolate–myrosinase (GSL–MYR) in Brassicaceae plants, mainly isothiocyanates (ITCs), are known for antimicrobial activity against numerous pathogens and health-protective effects in humans.

This work explored Brassica nigra [black mustard] and Eruca sativa [arugula] defatted seed meal (DSM) GSL-containing diets against natural Nosema infection in honeybees. Feeding was administered in May to mildly N. ceranae-infected colonies for four weeks at 250 g/week.

  • N. ceranae abundance showed a slight but significant decrease.
  • No significant effects on colony development and bee mortality were observed compared to controls.
  • MYR activity was detected both in bees fed DSMs and controls.
  • ITCs were found in gut tissues from bees treated with DSMs, corroborating presence of a MYR-like enzyme capable of hydrolyzing ingested GSLs.

Use of DSMs containing GSLs represents a promising alternative to fumagillin as it would overcome the problem of toxic bee product residues encountered with antibiotic treatment.” “Glucosinolate Bioactivation by Apis mellifera Workers and Its Impact on Nosema ceranae Infection at the Colony Level”

A review was cited for “ITCs are GSL hydrolysis products known for their broad-spectrum biological activities against pests and soil/food-borne fungi, bacteria, and human microorganisms.”

“ITCs are efficient agents against a wide range of fungal strains. Many plant and human pathogens, as well as other fungi, were shown to be inhibited in vitro by these agents.

ITC-containing, chemically-characterized plant matrices used to test antifungal activity are summarized. The same activities were tested in pure ITCs; in fact, several well-designed studies did both approaches.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all rule to predict antifungal activity, in general, less polar compounds are usually more potent in solution, but lag behind more volatile compounds with small molecule size in vapor-phase applications. The main biochemical targets seem to be directly related to chemical reactivity, with antioxidant machinery a well-identified target.

Excellent studies on transcriptomics show general stress responses. Inhibiting production of fungal toxins is shown in many real-life applications as well.

Additional applications include:

  • Inhibition of fungal growth, pathogenesis, and/or toxin production in a variety of stored plants and grains;
  • Inhibition of disease on post-harvest fruits; as well as
  • Increasing shelf-life of different food products.

What is more, decrease in decay is frequently accompanied by the lack of measurable changes in various quality characteristics.

ITCs’ natural origin and biodegradability make them good candidates for a wide range of possible applications. Long-term studies show effects are delivered usually without apparent side-effects to plants.” “Effects of Glucosinolate-Derived Isothiocyanates on Fungi: A Comprehensive Review on Direct Effects, Mechanisms, Structure-Activity Relationship Data and Possible Agricultural Applications”


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