Food is not just the sum of its nutrients.

The nutritional value of a food should be evaluated on the basis of the foodstuff as a whole, and not as an effect of the individual nutrients. This is the conclusion of an international expert panel of epidemiologists, physicians, food and nutrition scientists.

“Researchers have become more skilful over the years, and we have acquired more methods for exploring what specific nutrients mean for digestion and health,” Tanja continues “But when we eat, we do not consume individual nutrients. We eat the whole food. Either alone or together with other foods in a meal. It therefore seems obvious that we should assess food products in context.”

Ultimately this means that the composition of a food can alter the properties of the nutrients contained within it, in ways that cannot be predicted on the basis of an analysis of the individual nutrients.

Tanja Kongerslev Thorning explains further “An example is almonds, which contain a lot of fat, but which release less fat than expected during digestion. Even when chewed really well. The effects on health of a food item are probably a combination of the relationship between its nutrients, and also of the methods used in its preparation or production. This means that some foods may be better for us, or less healthy, than is currently believed.”

Food is not just the sum of its nutrients. – University of Copenhagen

I wish more scientists thought like this and considered the entire living ecosystem that is our food, including the microbes they often contain. Instead we get studies that tell us the best way to cook that measure “nutritional value” like this one on mushrooms:

Effect of different cooking methods on nutritional value and antioxidant activity of cultivated mushrooms: International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition: Vol 68, No 3

Breaking the Oxygen Barrier in Microbial Cultivation

Oxygen comprises one fifth of our atmosphere, and we take for granted that this a good thing. After all, aerobic creatures like ourselves could not exist without free O2. Not all life shares this feeling. Oxygen and its derivatives (known as “reactive oxygen species” or ROS) can wreak havoc on the biochemistry of many microbes. For some obligate anaerobes such as methane-producing archaea, even a small trace of oxygen poisons them irreversibly (see, for example Kiener and Leisinger 1983). Others fall somewhere in the middle. Microaerophiles (e.g. Helicobacter pylori, the cause of gastric ulcers) require small amounts of oxygen but are unable to tolerate full atmospheric concentrations (Bury-Moné et al., 2006).

Why are these organisms sensitive to oxygen?

Find out why at:
Small Things Considered: Breaking the Oxygen Barrier in Microbial Cultivation

Foliar feeding with slow release biohybrid microgels

A team from DWI-Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials in Aachen, RWTH Aachen University, and the University of Bonn has now developed a foliar fertilization system based on biocompatible microgels that adhere selectively to leaves for a long period and slowly deliver nutrients in a controlled fashion. Microgels are tiny particles of cross-linked macromolecules that can bind water and other molecules, such as fertilizers very efficiently.

Led by Ulrich Schwaneberg and Andrij Pich, the researchers equipped the interiors of gel particles with binding sites modeled on the iron-binding proteins of bacteria. These ensure that the iron ions are released slowly. The microgels are loaded with an iron-containing solution at a pH of 3. When the pH rises to 7, the microgels shrink, releasing water and binding the iron.

The surface of the gel particles is equipped with anchor peptides from lactic acid bacteria. These bind securely to leaf surfaces to hinder rinsing away of the microgels. The water in the gel provides an aqueous microenvironment that allows the iron to diffuse into the leaves. Yellow leaves of iron-deficient cucumber plants rapidly turned green in spots where the new foliar fertilizer was applied.

By incorporating different binding sites, the microgel “containers” can be loaded with a multitude of other metal ions or agents. A controlled delivery of agents as required would minimize the applied quantities as well as the release of fertilizers and pesticides into the environment. Low production costs, high levels of loading, easy application, and adjustable adhesive properties should make broad industrial applications possible. The goal is to make self-regulating delivery systems for sustainable agriculture.

Biofunctional Microgel-Based Fertilizers for Controlled Foliar Delivery of Nutrients to Plants – Meurer – 2017 – Angewandte Chemie International Edition – Wiley Online Library

Soil Carbon Mineralization Limits.

A new study titled Is the rate of mineralization of soil organic carbon under microbiological control? suggests that:

  • the rate limiting step in SOC mineralization is abiotic (physical rather than biological).
  • that mineralization of SOC may be a two-stage process: firstly, non-bioavailable forms are converted abiologically to bioavailable forms, which, only then, undergo a second process, biological mineralization.

I’ll speculate and say that mineralization is perhaps limited by dissolved organic carbon in the form of plant exudates, and humates with complex and random chemical structures that are produced by weathering and detritivores that consume plant litter. Liquid compounds that tend to be lost when composting.

Compounds that are probably why wet climates and seagrasses sequester the most carbon.

Why drying and wetting of these compounds leads to CO2-Bursts.

Compounds we should be trying to keep in the soil profile doing good, and not in aquifers or waterways creating algal blooms, like we really need to with this recently discovered underground molten lake the size of Mexico!

That depending on the complexity of the carbon molecule as it gets passed down the soil carbon continuum food web it may be more than a two-stage process, with more than one in both the physical and biological realms based upon chemical energy and chemisorption of the carbon compounds.

*shrugs* Just my guess, I suck at chemistry.

Chemisorption:Screenshot from 2017-05-21 12-34-28.png

Add 1.5% Biochar to a 3.5% SOC Soil And Wait 9 Years.

Add 1.5% biochar to a 3.5% (0-100mm sampled) soil organic carbon soil, wait 9 years and it begins to positively prime. Clearly they didn’t add enough to reach a tipping point faster, or depending on your perspective and availability, adding biochar to low carbon soils is a long-term investment. I assume it was surface applied as the study is paywalled.

Screenshot from 2017-05-21 07-29-17

Paywalled: Biochar built soil carbon over a decade by stabilizing rhizodeposits : Nature Climate Change : Nature Research

The Sea Monster At The Bottom Of The Carbon Food Chain

The ocean sequesters massive amounts of carbon in the form of “dissolved organic matter,” and new research explains how an ancient group of cells in the dark ocean wrings the last bit of energy from carbon molecules resistant to breakdown.

A look at genomes from SAR202 bacterioplankton found oxidative enzymes and other important families of enzymes that indicate SAR202 may facilitate the last stages of breakdown before the dissolved oxygen matter, or DOM, reaches a “refractory” state that fends off further decomposition.

Zach Landry, an OSU graduate student and first author of the study, named SAR202 “Monstromaria” from the Latin term for “sea monster.”

Study illuminates fate of marine carbon in last steps toward sequestration| Oregon State University

SAR202 Genomes from the Dark Ocean Predict Pathways for the Oxidation of Recalcitrant Dissolved Organic Matter


Scientists begin to unlock secrets of deep ocean color from organic matter | UMCES

For the first time, researchers have shown that cultured picocyanobacteria, Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus, found in the open ocean release fluorescent components that closely match these typical fluorescent signals found in oceanic environments.

“Two genus of picocyanobacteria – Synechococus and Prochlorocccos – are the most abundant carbon fixers in the ocean.” said Chen. His lab maintains a collection of marine cyanobacteria and cyanoviruses. Some of these isolates were used in this study.

“When you sail on the blue ocean, a lot of picocyanbacteria are working there,” said Gonsior.” They turn carbon dioxide into organic carbon and are likely responsible for some of the deep ocean color coming from organic matter.”

Biodiversity can offer protection to weaker species


A new Yale-led study of fungi competition illustrates that maintaining a diverse collection of species indeed not only safeguards weaker species but also protects the genetic diversity of the larger community.

For the study, the researchers observed interactions between 37 distinct types of wood-decay fungi, which are any species of fungi that grow on dead wood. Unlike other plants, fungi species grow toward other species and compete for space.

Typically the fungi would meet near the center of the petri dish after about 20 days, after which they would begin an “interference competition” in which each species sought to overtake the other and claim available space.

Often the competitions would end in a stalemate. But in many cases the stronger species would overtake the other, growing on top of and then decomposing the weaker species.

While the most competitive fungal species tended to grow fast, an effective offensive strategy, the researchers found that other species were more adept at playing defense. Some fungal species, for example, tended to remain fixed in one location, developing a dense biomass that became difficult to overcome even by the best offensive competitors. In so doing, these defensive fungi created a buffer between the stronger species and a weaker species.

The study is published today in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Why Plants May Grow Like Crazy After a Dry Then Wet Event

Microbes and soil respiration.


In field trials shown below in the video, CO2 respiration also shows a correlated rise in nitrogen removal and yield by plants.

Does that mean you are better off cycling between dry and wet conditions compared to a consistent moisture level for mineralisation? Probably not as indicated in the cumulative mineralization rate in the diagram above. My own gardening experiment with a wicking tray vs periodic watering system seems to bare similar results to those shown.

Temperature is also mentioned, with CO2 respiration at least doubling with every 10 degrees Celsius. That has me thinking about soil carbon priming vs CO2 respiration and how much and what type of mulch would best keep the soil microbes happy and in goldilocks temperature zone respiring CO2 while sequestering carbon.

Woods End Laboratory

Diverse aboveground biomass for the soil organic carbon win

Now this is interesting:

“the rhizosphere priming effect was positively correlated with aboveground plant biomass, but surprisingly not with root biomass

  1. Grow diverse aboveground biomass
  2. Chop and drop
  3. Mulcho profit!

In a meta-analysis of 31 studies, researches show that the rhizosphere enhances soil organic carbon mineralization by 59%[*].

That woody species are best, then grass, then crops.

[Me: *So long as it’s fed from the above ground biomass litter.]

Sounds like C:Nhoosing Your Mulch? Think of the Fungi to me, and photosynthesise as much as you can be!

Don’t forget plant and mulch diversity in this mix, as Plant litter diversity increases microbial abundance, fungal diversity, and carbon and nitrogen cycling.

Another interesting study today suggests that soil fungal community is mainly influenced by plant community composition, distance between communities, and rainfall.

So go diverse and you can’t really lose.

Diverse ecosystems in connected communities.