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					 Working together to eliminate cyanide poisoning, konzo, tropical ataxic neuropathy (TAN) and
 neurolathyrism.




            Cassava Cyanide Diseases & Neurolathyrism Network

 Issue Number 14, December 2009


Contents                                 As a result of the relationship      WORKSHOP ON TOXICO-
Ghent Workshop                       1   between         konzo        and         NUTRITIONAL
Committees                           1   neurolathyrism and the recent        NEURODEGENERATIONS
Program                              2   Workshop held in Ghent,              KONZO AND LATHYRISM
Foreword                             3   Belgium, we have decided to
Keynote Lecture                      3   expand the Cassava Cyanide                September 21-22, 2009
Epidemiological and nutritional          Diseases Network to include                  Ghent, Belgium
aspects abstracts                    4   neurolathyrism. The name of
Toxicological aspects and other risk     the expanded Network is the
factors abstracts                    8   Cassava Cyanide Diseases &
                                         Neurolathyrism          Network             COMMITTEES
Neurobiological aspects abstracts 13
Breeding and biotechnological            (CCDNN). The CCDNN is a free                    Conveners
approach for crop improvement            worldwide network which is            J.Howard Bradbury (Australian
abstracts                          17    working        towards        the      National University, Canberra,
Recommendations                    22    elimination      of     cyanide                  Australia)
Author and E-mail index            24    poisoning, konzo, tropical          Fernand Lambein (Ghent University,
                                         ataxic neuropathy (TAN) and                      Belgium)
                                         neurolathyrism.
                                         The Newsletter of the CCDNN                  Steering Committee
CCDN Coordinator:                        is now called the Cassava           Marc Van Montagu (Institute of Plant
Dr. J. Howard Bradbury                                                           Biotechnology for Developing
Botany and Zoology, Research School of   Cyanide        Diseases         &   Countries, IPBO, Ghent University,
Biology,                                 Neurolathyrism News (CCDN               Belgium), J.Howard Bradbury
Australian National University           News). This issue is No 14 in          (Australian National University,
Canberra ACT 0200, Australia             the series that commenced in         Canberra, Australia), Luc Leybaert
Phone: +61-2-6125 0775
E-mail: howard.bradbury@anu.edu.au       June 2003.                            (Faculty of Medicine and Health
                                         In this issue we are privileged          Sciences, Ghent University,
Coordinating Group:                      to publish the abstracts of the       Belgium), Patrick Van der Stuyft
J.P.Banea,    Julie   Cliff,  Arnaldo    papers given at the recent             (Institute for Tropical Medicine,
Cumbana, Ian Denton, Fernand             Workshop on konzo and               Antwerp, Belgium), Geert Angenon
Lambein,    N.L.V.Mlingi,    Humberto                                          (Department of Plant Genetics,
Muquingue, Bala Nambisan, Dulce          neurolathyrism as well as the       VUB, Brussels, Belgium), Godelieve
Nhassico, S.L.N. Rao                     recommendations from the              Gheysen (Faculty of Bioscience
                                         Cassava/konzo       –     Grass        Engineering, Ghent University,
Country Contacts:                        pea/neurolathyrism Group.                           Belgium)
Cameroon: E.E. Agbor;                    We plan to expand the
D.R. Congo: D.D. Ngudi;                  CCDNN, to include those                    Scientific Committee
Indonesia: A. Hidayat;                   interested in neurolathyrism,          J.Howard Bradbury (Australian
                                         and also CCDN News to make             National University, Canberra,
Mozambique: Anabela Zacarias;
                                         it a venue for the publication      Australia), Fernand Lambein (IPBO,
Nigeria: M.N. Adindu and P.N. Okafor;                                         Ghent University, Belgium), Jean-
                                         of short articles and letters (1-   Pierre Banea-Mayambu (University
Website:                                 3 pages A4 double spaced)            of Kinshasa, DR Congo), Yu-Haey
www.anu.edu.au/BoZo/CCDN                 written in English.                     Kuo (IPBO, Ghent University,
                                                                             Belgium), Peter Nunn (Portsmouth

                                                                                                               1
   University, U.K.), S. L. N. Rao       Lunch break
 (Osmania University, Hyderabad,                                                  Kuniko     Kusama-Eguchi    (Nihon
  India), Dulce de Oliveira (IPBO,       Tylleskar Thorkild (Centre for           University, Japan):
   Ghent University, Belgium and         International    Health,     Bergen,     “An improved neurolathyrism rat
  Brazil), Delphin Diasolua Ngudi        Norway):                                 model: impaired VEGF systems
(IPBO, Ghent University, Belgium),       "Dietary intake and sulphur nutrition    have a critical role in the
 Marijke Van Moorhem (Faculty of         in a konzo-affected population in DR     degeneration of motor neurons”
  Medicine and Health Sciences,          Congo"
    Ghent University, Belgium).                                                   Desire Tshala-Katumbay (Oregon
                                         Jean-Pierre      Banea-Mayambu           Health and Science University,
  Local Organizing Committee             (Programme National de Nutrition,        USA):
 Fernand Lambein, Yu-Haey Kuo,           Kinshasa, DR Congo):                     “On    the     mechanisms  and
 Sylvia Burssens, Delphin Diasolua       “Bitter cassava consumption and          biomarkers of konzo”
   Ngudi, Marijke Van Moorhem,           konzo in DRC”
 Katerine Kotsirkof and Véronique                                                 Coffee     break        and      Poster
       Kervyn de Meerendré.              Presentation of selected posters         presentation

                                         Coffee break and Poster session          Marijke Van Moorhem (Ghent
                                                                                  University, Belgium):
           PROGRAM                                                                “Unraveling the mechanism of beta-
                                         Session 2: Toxicological aspects
                                         and other risk factors                   ODAP induced excitotoxicity and
Monday September 21                                                               oxidative stress, relevance for
                                         Chair: Prof. S. L. N. Rao
                                         Co-chair: Dr. L. Chiwona Karltun         neurolathyrism prevention”
Opening
                                         Howard        Bradbury     (Australian   Dirk Enneking (Waite Agricultural
Registration + mounting posters                                                   Research     Institute,  Adelaide,
                                         National      University,   Canberra,
                                         Australia): (presented by Julie Cliff)   Australia):
Opening speech by professor em.                                                   "A suitable bioassay is needed to
                                         “Uptake of simple wetting method in
Dr. Marc Van Montagu (IPBO,                                                       model lathyrism in mono-gastric
                                         Africa to reduce cyanide poisoning
Ghent University, Belgium)                                                        animals"
                                         and konzo from cassava"
General Introduction by Prof. Dr.                                                 Jordi    Llorens   (Universitat de
                                         Haileyesus Getahun (Ethiopia):
Fernand Lambein (IPBO, Ghent                                                      Barcelona, Spain):
                                         “Risk and protective factors for
University, Belgium)                                                              “A new unifying chemical hypothesis
                                         neurolathyrism in Ethiopia”
                                                                                  on lathyrism, konzo and tropical
Keynote speaker                                                                   ataxic neuropathy”
                                         Leon     Brimer   (University     of
S.L.N. Rao (Hyderabad, India):           Copenhagen, Denmark):                    Presentation of selected posters
                                         "Chemical food safety of cassava
"A look at the brighter facets of
                                         products in geographical regions         Lunch break
ODAP, Homoarginine and the Grass
                                         new to cassava production and
Pea"
                                         processing. Examples from Africa"        Session      4:    Breeding and
Coffee break and Poster session                                                   biotechnological approach for
                                         Presentation of selected posters         crop improvement
Session 1: Epidemiological and                                                    Chair: Prof. G. Gheysen
                                         Coffee break and Poster session          Co-chair: Prof. M. Tate
nutritional aspects
Chair: Prof. H. Rosling
                                         Panel discussion open to the             Geletu Bejiga (ICARDA, Aleppo,
Co-chair: Prof. P. Nunn
                                         public and the press:                    Syria) (presented by S. K. Agrawal):
                                         “Neglected diseases: Who or what         “Integrated management of grass
Darna     Dufour     (University    of
                                         to blame?”                               pea to reduce risk of lathyrism”
Colorado, USA):
                                         Moderators: Prof. M. van Montagu
“Methods for the collection of dietary
                                         and Prof. H. Rosling                     Bala Nambisan (Central Tuber
data in konzo and lathyrism prone
                                                                                  Crops         Research         Institute,
populations”
                                         Conference dinner                        Trivandrum, India):
                                                                                  “Elimination of anti-nutritional factors
Julie Cliff (Universidade Eduardo
                                                                                  for quality improvement of cassava”
Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique):
"Konzo and continuing cyanide            Tuesday September 22
                                                                                  Chongying        Wang         (Lanzhou
intoxication  from    cassava   in                                                University, China):
Mozambique"                              Session       3:    Neurobiological
                                         aspects                                  “The factors influencing       β-ODAP
                                         Chair: Prof. L. Leybaert                 content      and    their      possible
Nicholas Mlingi (Tanzania Food and
                                         Co-chair: Dr. H. Getahun                 mechanisms in grass pea       (Lathyrus
Nutrition Centre, Dar es Salaam,
                                                                                  sativus L.)”
Tanzania):
“Re-occurrence of konzo disease in       Peter     Nunn     (University    of
                                                                                  Presentation of selected posters
cassava consuming districts in           Portsmouth, U.K.):
Southern Tanzania”                       "Dietary and plasma sulphur-
                                                                                  Coffee     break        and      Poster
                                         containing amino acids as factors in
                                                                                  presentation
                                         neurological diseases"
                                                                                                                         2
                                             Tanzania, epidemics of lathyrism in        biotechnological techniques but
Round table discussion:                      Bangladesh (1980’s), India (1980’s)        normally do not communicate with
Priorities for future research for the       and Ethiopia (1980’s and 1990’s)           each other in person or through the
prevention of konzo and lathyrism.           have all occurred due to drought.          literature. However, they need each
Policy recommendations.                      Political and military instability is      other's information and opinion to
Moderator:        Ashutosh     Sarker        another factor that has facilitated the    come to an integrated approach to
(ICARDA)                                     occurrence of konzo in D.R. Congo,         solve the problem and to prevent
                                             Mozambique and Central African             these diseases.
Closing remarks + refreshments               Republic, as well as cases of                        We hope that during this
                                             lathyrism during the second world          workshop       the    community     of
                                             war in Europe. Both drought and war        cassava/grass pea researchers will
             Foreword                        reduce the amount of post harvest          widen their view and deepen their
                                             processing below what is required to       understanding of these neglected
         It is intriguing that two           ensure safe consumption. Both              diseases, konzo and lathyrism. Both
diseases with very similar clinical          drought and war also reduce the            diseases, once established, are
symptoms seem to be caused by the            number of different food items             irreversible and there is no cure, no
consumption of totally different plant       available in the diet.                     medicine and hence no interest from
foodstuffs. The occurrence of konzo                     As of now, there is no          the pharmaceutical industry, that
is associated with consumption of            geographic overlap of cassava              normally is a major sponsor of
the carbohydrate rich roots of               production and grass pea cultivation.      medical research. Perhaps this is
Manihot esculenta (cassava) of the           Demographic pressure and global            one reason for their status as
plant family Euphorbiaceae. The              warming may be responsible for the         neglected diseases. It is expected
occurrence        of    lathyrism       is   increasing consumption of cassava          that the round table discussion will
associated with consumption of the           in much of Africa and for the              come up with proposals to give
protein rich seeds of the legume             increasing area of grass pea               guidance to the younger generation
Lathyrus      sativus    (grass      pea,    cultivation in Ethiopia. While the         of researchers and stakeholders on
Fabaceae).         Identification       of   exact aetiology of konzo and               how to prevent these unfair diseases
cyanogenic glucosides in cassava             lathyrism     is    not      completely    of the poor, while at the same time
roots as toxin of the respiratory            understood,       the      result     of   improving       the    socio-economic
chain and a neuro-active amino acid          consumption of either bitter cassava       conditions of farmers on the ever
in the seeds of grass pea does not           or grass pea in an unbalanced diet         increasing areas of marginal land,
bring the aetiology of these diseases        is so similar that a potential             boosted by global warming.
much closer.                                 combination of the two foodstuffs                    We wish all participants a
         Epidemiology of the two             could be predicted as a “worst case        fruitful meeting with productive
diseases is more similar as both             scenario”. With regard to konzo            discussions         and      increased
occur mainly among very poor rural           there are three approaches to              networking.
people with little or no formal              reduce its incidence. These are                          J. Howard Bradbury and
education, living as subsistence             broadening of the diet, development                             Fernand Lambein
farmers on drought prone and                 by plant breeding and transgenic                                 September, 2009
marginal lands. Drought or other             technology of new cultivars of low
causes of food insufficiency leads           cyanogen content and increased
them to consumption of either bitter         removal of cyanogens through better
cassava roots, and cassava flour or          processing. The same or similar
                                                                                                Keynote Lecture
grass pea seeds as an almost                 approaches can be considered for
exclusive staple food for extended           lathyrism. Transgenic technology
periods. During droughts, both the           can be applied for the reduction of        A LOOK AT THE BRIGHTER
cyanogens in cassava roots and the           cyanogens in cassava and the                   FACETS OF ODAP,
neuro-active amino acid in grass             reduction of the neurotoxin in grass       HOMOARGININE AND THE
pea     seed       can      double      in   pea, and perhaps of equal                        GRASS PEA
concentration. Consumers who buy             importance, to improve the content
cassava roots or grass pea seeds at          of essential amino acids and
                                                                                                       S.L.N. RAO
local markets are rarely affected.           micronutrients.
Apparently the food supply at the                       The workshop is intended        Professor of Biochemistry (Retd) ,Osmania
markets has more variation than              as an interface between researchers        University, Hyderabad, 500007 (India)
what subsistence farmers harvest             on konzo and on lathyrism to
during periods of food insufficiency.        facilitate   the    identification   of    It is now fairly clear that
The greater incidence of konzo               common ground. The workshop is             neurolathyrism is the result only of
among women of child bearing age,            also intended as an interface              an excessive consumption of L.
and of lathyrism among young men             between agronomists and bio-               sativus for prolonged periods.
is not yet adequately explained. A           medical researchers. Agronomists           However, vast populations are
cheap and reproducible animal                are developing the crop in order to        traditionally consuming the pulse
model for konzo and lathyrism could          satisfy the interests of farmers and       over many years as a part of their
bring the answers to such persistent         the health of consumers, while bio-        diet without any apparent ill effects,
problems much closer.                        medical researchers study the              with the result that the ban on its
         Droughts        can      trigger    molecular events in the aetiology of       cultivation and sale are being
epidemics of konzo as well as                these diseases at a cellular or sub-       relaxed (in India). It is appropriate at
lathyrism. Recent epidemics of               cellular level or in animal models.        this juncture to examine in the
konzo      in     Mozambique          and    Both groups are increasingly using         context       of      some       recent
                                                                                                                                    3
developments, the likely benefits         and it`s activation however, could be       the dietary intake of specific
that might result from the use of L.      both pro-survival and pro-apoptotic.        nutrients and non-nutrients (toxins),
sativus as a part of a regular cereal     HIF-1 is increasingly studied for its       food records are the method of
based diet.                               perceived therapeutic potential as it       choice. Sample size needs to be
Humans alone are endowed with             promotes          angiogenesis      by      adequate to adjust for day-to-day
some yet uncharacterised but              upregulating vascular endothelial           and season variability in the intake
unique           mechanism           to   growth      factor     (VEGF)     and       of different foods. Adequate data on
detoxify/metabolise orally ingested       enhancement of this gene within             the composition of foods in their
ODAP and this may well be the             ischemic patients could promote             ready-to-eat form are also needed.
reason for the low incidence of           vessel proliferation very much              This is especially important in the
neurolathyrism. Humans excrete            needed for oxygenation. PKC                 cases like that of cassava where
less than 1% of ingested ODAP             activation by ODAP could be a               cyanide content is a function of the
compared to animals. Metabolic            target for amelioration of hypoxia          value in the crop as harvested and
oxidation of ODAP may be a likely         faced at high altitudes and also of         the processing applied.
pathway in humans and thus a              cognitive impairment in Alzheimer`s         RESULTS: Accurate estimates of
natural detoxifying mechanism.            disease.                                    the dietary intake of toxins like
L-homoarginine, the other unusual         L. sativus is an efficient nitrogen         cyanide and beta-ODAP as well as
amino acid in L. sativus is a             fixer and is also a very heavily            substances required for metabolic
substrate for nitric oxide synthase       nodulated      legume.     ODAP      is     detoxification require the use of food
(NOS) and also inhibits liver             reportedly      a    derepressor     of     records, adequate sample sizes and
arginase and is itself a poor             nitrogenase in certain nitrogen fixing      food composition data.
substrate. Homoarginine thus stays        bacteria and selectively enhances
                                                                                      KEYWORDS:        dietary             intake
in circulation much longer than           GSII activity and can derepress
                                                                                      methods, cassava, cyanide.
arginine and may contribute to a          nitrogen fixation in free living
sustained      nitric     oxide   (NO)    Rhizobia. The role of ODAP in plant
generation in addition to providing       nitrogen fixation needs to be
essential lysine. Though NO is both       explored further.                            KONZO AND CONTINUING
a good and bad messenger,
endogenous overproduction of NO is                                                      CYANIDE INTOXICATION
a remote possibility in humans and                                                        FROM CASSAVA IN
thus, L. sativus in limited quantities
                                              Epidemiological and                           MOZAMBIQUE
as part of a normal diet may be                nutritional aspects
                                                                                                   1                   2
beneficial to the general vasculature                                                      J. Cliff , H. Muquinque , D.
                                                                                                      2          3
and overall performance. Hard                                                              Nhassico , H. Nzwalo , J.H.
                                                                                                              4
physical labour is in fact a hallmark        METHODS FOR THE                                          Bradbury
of Lathyrus consumers. L. sativus          COLLECTION OF DIETARY
may be an effective natural                                                           1 Department of Community Health, Faculty of
alternative in dietary management
                                             DATA IN KONZO AND                        Medicine, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane,
and control of cardiovascular health         LATHYRISM PRONE                          Maputo (Mozambique)
                                                                                      2 Department of Physiological Sciences,
and performance instead of the                 POPULATIONS                            Faculty of Medicine, Universidade Eduardo
numerous arginine and citrulline                                                      Mondlane, Maputo (Mozambique)
                                                                                      3 Hospital Central, Faro (Portugal)
formulations and allied products in                      D. L. Dufour                 4 School of Botany and Zoology, Australian
the market. Homoarginine also                                                         National Universiity, Canberra (Australia)
inhibits the synaptosomal uptake of       Department of Anthropology, University of
                                          Colorado, Boulder, Colorado (USA)           BACKGROUND: In Mozambique,
glycine and may even benefit long
term potentiating (LTP) at the                                                        konzo was first reported in the
                                          OBJECTIVES:          Evaluate     the
synapse.                                                                              northern provinces of Nampula and
                                          usefulness of different methods for
Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1α) is                                                  Cabo Delgado in 1981, when a large
                                          the collection of dietary intake
an inducible transcription factor and                                                 epidemic (over 1100 reported cases)
                                          information.
a master regulator of cellular oxygen                                                 occurred during drought. In 1992-93,
                                          BACKGROUND: A number of
homeostasis. Very recent findings                                                     a further large epidemic (over 600
                                          methods have been developed to
show that L-ODAP stimulates the                                                       cases) was reported in districts
                                          collect information on food intake.
stabilization         and       nuclear                                               further south in Nampula Province,
                                          Interview based methods like food
translocation of HIF-1α in SK-N-MC                                                    associated with war. More recently,
                                          frequency questionnaires (FFQs)
human neuroblastoma and MCF7                                                          in 2005, over 100 cases were
                                          and 24-hour recalls are easy to
cells under normoxic conditions and                                                   reported in Zambezia province in
                                          administer and can provide a
also in chick brain in a time                                                         central Mozambique, in a drought-
                                          general picture of the diet. However,
dependent manner as shown by                                                          associated      epidemic.    Smaller
                                          both are subject to recall bias and
transient transfection and western                                                    epidemics have occurred along the
                                          provide only crude estimates of the
blot     analysis.      The     nuclear                                               years, and sporadic cases continue
                                          quantities of foods ingested. In
translocation of HIF-1α is inhibited                                                  to be reported in epidemic areas.
                                          addition, FFQs require validation in
by staurosporine indicating the                                                       Konzo is now persistent.
                                          each cultural setting. Food records
involvement of protein kinase C                                                       RESULTS: Epidemics have always
                                          (estimated or weighed) are more
(PKC). Since HIF-1α is a global                                                       occurred at times of agricultural
                                          time consuming to administer, but
regulator      of      hypoxic    gene                                                crisis, during the cassava harvest,
                                          avoid recall bias and provide
expression and a transcription factor                                                 when the population has been
                                          accurate      estimates     of  food
for more than a dozen target genes                                                    dependent on a diet of insufficiently
                                          quantities. If the goal is to assess
                                                                                      processed bitter cassava. Sporadic
                                                                                                                                 4
cases occur in the poorest families,           The outbreaks were due to food                   BITTER CASSAVA
with konzo now passing down                    shortage in rural areas after a                 CONSUMPTION AND
through generations. Konzo mostly              prolonged      drought.     A     similar
affects women of child-bearing age             situation occurred in Mkuka village,            KONZO IN KAHEMBA
and children over two years of age.            Mbinga district, southern Tanzania            TERRITORY, BANDUNDU
The clinical picture is monotonous,            in 2001-2002 where 24 cases were                 PROVINCE, DRC
with a presentation of irreversible,           diagnosed in equal numbers of
                                                                                                                            1
non-progressive spastic paraparesis            children and women of child bearing              J. P. Banea-Mayambu , D.
                                                                                                              1
of acute onset and varying severity.           age.                                           Nahimana Gitebo , A. Mulumba
                                                                                                                2
When measured, blood or urinary                Another outbreak occurred during                          Nkuadi
thiocyanate concentrations have                the 2002-2003 drought, where 214
always been high in konzo-affected             cases were reported in Mtwara               1 Programme National de Nutrition, Ministère
patients or populations, and sulphur           region in southern Tanzania. These          de la santé Publique, Kinshasa (DRC)
amino acids concentrations have                were spread over 13 villages in             2 Institut Supérieur des Techniques
been low. In non-epidemic years,               Mtwara rural district and five villages     médicales, Kinshasa (DRC)
concentrations        of      urinary          in Newala district. The cases in
                                                                                           OBJECTIVE: Association between
thiocyanate remain high in patients            Mbinga, Mtwara           and    Newala
                                                                                           consumption         of      insufficiently
and the population at the time of the          districts were followed up in 2008 for
                                                                                           processed bitter cassava roots and
cassava harvest.                               rehabilitation by screening 497
                                                                                           konzo occurrences in Kahemba,
CONCLUSIONS:          Programs      to         subjects of whom 136 subjects               Bandundu province, DRC.
prevent konzo have focused on                  needed assistance in walking. Sixty
                                                                                           BACKGROUND: Bitter cassava is
distributing less toxic varieties of           were given crutches and two given
                                                                                           the main staple food and also the
cassava and disseminating new                  wheelchairs.
                                                                                           most important cash crop in
processing methods, such as grating            RESULTS and CONCLUSIONS:
                                                                                           Bandundu province in DRC. Earlier
and the flour wetting method. There            Observations and recommendations            studies in poor rural areas of
have been also attempts to                     made by the screening team                  Bandundu          have        associated
rehabilitate konzo sufferers through           included the following:
                                                                                           monotonous          and        prolonged
physiotherapy using local, basic               1. The konzo problem is made
                                                                                           consumption         of      insufficiently
resources. Attention should also be            worse by some villagers through
                                                                                           processed bitter cassava roots with
given to the wider question of                 ignorance in eating improperly
                                                                                           konzo, a paralytic disease affecting
agricultural development and food              processed cassava. Also food
                                                                                           mostly women and children. In 2008,
security in the regions of Africa              insecurity due to lack of rains leads
                                                                                           several konzo occurrences were
where      dependence     on    bitter         to use of bitter cassava.
                                                                                           reported in the territory of Kahemba
cassava results in chronic cyanide             2. The wetting method is the
                                                                                           in Bandundu province and health
intoxication and persistent and                simplest way to prepare cassava
                                                                                           authorities in Kinshasa are willing to
emerging konzo.                                flour before cooking, it was well
                                                                                           conduct an intervention project
                                               accepted by women activists and             focusing       on      safe      cassava
KEYWORDS:      konzo,             cyanide,
                                               should be disseminated country
cassava, Mozambique.                                                                       processing and consumption. To
                                               wide to all who use cassava flour.
                                                                                           confirm       the     association       of
                                               3. There is a need for cyanide test
                                                                                           consumption of bitter, insufficiently
                                               kits from Australia for health officers
                                                                                           processed cassava with konzo, a
  RE-OCCURRENCE OF                             in konzo-prone districts to do regular      rapid nutrition survey was conducted
                                               monitoring of cyanide in cassava
   KONZO IN CASSAVA                                                                        in one of the affected villages in
                                               flour during regular village visits.
CONSUMING DISTRICTS IN                                                                     Kahemba territory in February 2008.
                                               4. More workshops are needed on
                                                                                           RESULTS: Interviews with medical
  SOUTHERN TANZANIA                            the wetting method and improved
                                                                                           officers revealed 1047 cases of
                                               processing of cassava roots and
                                                                                           konzo from 2004 to 2009. In the
     N. L. V. Mlingi1, S. Nkya1, S.            testing using cyanide kits.
                                                                                           village studied, of 840 inhabitants 42
               1           2
     R.Tatala , H. Ngude , J. H.               5. More collaboration between
                         3                                                                 cases of konzo were identified, of
               Bradbury                        TFNC, Tanzania Red Cross Society
                                                                                           which 31 appeared before 2008, 8 in
                                               and AusAID.
                                                                                           2008 and 3 in 2009. The aetiology of
1 Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC),
P.O. Box 977, Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)                                                     konzo was not well known by the
                                               KEYWORDS:       Konzo,  cassava
2 Tanzania Red Cross Society, P.O. Box 1133,                                               affected population. Zeku, a local
Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)                       consumption, crutches, Tanzania,            bitter variety of cassava, was the
3 School of Botany and Zoology, Australian     wetting method.
National University, Canberra, ACT 0200
                                                                                           main staple food. Roots were
(Australia)                                                                                processed by soaking during two
                                                                                           days followed by sundrying for 1-3
BACKGROUND: The first outbreak                   DIETARY INTAKE AND                        days. Food was monotonous and
of konzo in Tanzania was in the                SULPHUR NUTRITION IN A                      dominated by the consumption of
north in 1984-1985 where 39 cases                                                          the zeku paste with cassava leaves;
were diagnosed in three villages of
                                                  KONZO-AFFECTED
                                                                                           while meat and legumes were rare.
Tarime district. The second outbreak             POPULATION IN D. R.                       CONCLUSIONS: Consumption of
occurred in southern Tanzania with                     CONGO                               insufficiently processed cassava has
three cases in Masasi district in                                                          been associated with konzo in
1988. In all cases there was an                             T. Tylleskar                   several remote areas in Bandundu.
association      between    cassava                                                        This may be the same case for
consumption and konzo outbreak.                                                            konzo in Kahemba. Like elsewhere,

                                                                                                                                      5
a nutrition education program                     high cyanide levels (median 20 ppm,     identified at the mobile clinics.
integrated in a health functional                 range 5-300 ppm). The shortened         Patients were classified as konzo
system can be of a durable                        cassava       processing  did    not    cases if they had a history of sudden
effectiveness in the prevention of                efficiently      reduce      cyanide    onset of spastic paralysis. Basic
konzo in Kahemba.                                 concentration. Interestingly, when      information about the history and
                                                  prolonged for 24 more hours, the        clinical presentation was recorded
KEYWORDS: bitter cassava, konzo.                  same cassava treatment allowed          on patient’s cards. Patients were
                                                  cyanide lowering below the WHO          provided          with       nutritional
                                                  toxicity threshold.                     supplements and selected cases
SPASTIC PARAPARESIS IN                            CONCLUSIONS: The surveys and            were referred for physiotherapy in a
                                                  analyses confirm that the disease       rehabilitation center in a nearby
BURHINYI: EVIDENCE FOR                            was indeed konzo, a condition never     town.
THE FIRST OUTBREAK OF                             before reported in the area. The        RESULTS and CONCLUSION:
   KONZO IN EASTERN                               outbreak was triggered by food          Between September 2007 and
 DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC                              shortages and resulting shortcuts in    November 2008, 469 patients were
                                                  the processing of the main staple       diagnosed with konzo in the mobile
    OF CONGO (DRC)                                food, cassava, because of the           clinics organized by MSF. Most of
                          1,5,6,7                 longstanding state of insecurity.       the patients developed the disease
    J. N. Chabwine       , O. C.
            1,3,4            1,3                  Contributory factors include the        after 2007. New cases were arising
  Masheka , B. Maheshe , B.
          2                3                      introduction of varieties of bitter     throughout the year without a clear
   Rutega , K. Mutendela , M. J.                  cassava and climate change,             seasonal pattern. The majority
      4                1             2
Bonnet , S. Balegamire , J. M. Lola ,             leading to soil erosion and             (80%) were refugees from CAR.
                          1
      S. Z. Balol’ebwami , O.
               2                 5,6              prolonged drought. All these factors    82% of patients were aged between
 Shangalume , J. M. Balegamire ,
                      5                           are still present in eastern Congo      5 and 30 years. Male to female ratio
             B. Nemery
                                                  and there are indications that the      was 0.4. Number of male and
1 Faculty of Medicine, Université Catholique de
                                                  outbreak of konzo is still ongoing      female patients was similar in the
Bukavu (UCB) (DR Congo)                           and spreading. As for the prevention    age group below 15 years
2 Faculty of Agronomy, UCB (DR Congo)             of       cassava-derived     cyanide    (male/female ratio 0.8), while in the
3 Hôpital Provincial de Référence de Bukavu       intoxication, a brief extension of      age group above 15 years most of
(DR Congo)
4 Bureau Diocésain des Oeuvres Médicales,         cassava processing time appears to      the      patients      were    women
Bukavu (DR Congo)                                 be one possible solution.               (male/female ratio 0.2). Almost all
5 Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Occupational,                                           patients complained about functional
Environmental and Insurance Medicine
(Belgium) 6 NGO Africa Tomorrow
                                                  KEYWORDS:          konzo,    cassava,   impairment of lower limbs, weight
7 University Hospital of Geneva (Switzerland)     malnutrition, war, Burhinyi.            loss and muscle wasting. Over two
                                                                                          thirds of patients reported vomiting
BACKGROUND: Like other eastern                                                            and abdominal pain at the time of
provinces of the DRC, South-Kivu                                                          the onset of paralysis. 18% of
has been the site of war and violent
                                                  AN OUTBREAK OF KONZO
                                                                                          patients     also    reported    vision
conflicts for more than a decade.                 AMONG REFUGEES FROM                     problems, and 8% reported hearing
The appearance of paralytic disease                  CENTRAL AFRICAN                      problems.
in Burinhyi, a populous area in                    REPUBLIC IN PROVINCE
South-Kivu, led to the hypothesis                  DE L’EST IN CAMEROON                   KEYWORDS: konzo, spastic
that this represented an outbreak of                                                      paralysis, refugees.
konzo, an irreversible upper motor
                                                      I. Ciglenecki, R. Eyema, C.
neuron disease caused by the
                                                    Kabanda, F. Taafo, V. Urbaniak
consumption          of       insufficiently
processed        cassava        containing
                                                                                              KONZO AND DIETARY
                                                  Medecins Sans Frontieres, 78 Rue de
cyanogenic           glycosides           in      Lausanne, 1202 Geneva (Switzerland)        PATTERN IN CASSAVA-
nutritionally compromised people.                                                                CONSUMING
Two field surveys were conducted,                 OBJECTIVES:         Description  of          POPULATIONS OF
in     2003      and       2005,      using       patients seen in MSF mobile clinics
                                                  during an outbreak of konzo in                POPOKABAKA,
questionnaires           and        clinical
examinations. Urinary thiocyanate (a              Province de l’Est in Cameroon             DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
marker of cyanide intake) was                     BACKGROUND: Around 80’000                       OF CONGO
measured, as well as cyanide                      refugees from Central African
concentrations          in      processed         Republic (CAR) had sought refuge         D. Diasolua Ngudi1, 2, J. P. Banea-
cassava      roots       obtained      from       in Cameroon since 2005, fleeing the         Mayambu1, F. Lambein2, P.
                                                                                                                 3
patients.                                         insecurity caused by the conflict                    Kolsteren
RESULTS:         We        identified    41       between rebel groups and national
subjects (mean age 16 y) meeting                  army, and regular attacks of armed      1 Programme National de Nutrition, Kinshasa
                                                  bandits. MSF, an international non-     (D.R.Congo)
the clinical criteria of konzo, yielding                                                  2 IPBO, Instituut Plantenbiotechnologie voor
a prevalence of at least 6 per 10,000             governmental organization, was          Ontwikkelingslanden, Ghent University, Ghent
people in 2005. Most patients                     working in Province de l’Est from       (Belgium)
                                                  July 2007 on, providing nutritional     3 Nutrition and Child Health Unit, Institute of
showed       evidence        of     chronic                                               Tropical Medicine, Antwerp (Belgium)
malnutrition. Urinary thiocyanate                 assistance and medical care to the
concentrations were elevated (mean                refugees. Mobile clinics were           OBJECTIVES:     Identification of
13 µg/L, range 2-69 µg/L) and                     organised on a weekly basis at the      konzo cases and description of
several cassava samples contained                 refugee sites. Cases of konzo were      associated household factors and
                                                                                                                                        6
the dietary pattern in cassava                CHARACTERISTIC                              CONCLUSIONS:            In    summary,
consuming populations.                          FEATURES OF                               neurolathyrism is significant in
BACKGROUND: In sub-Saharan                                                                Ethiopia and is still far from receiving
Africa, the paralytic disease konzo          NEUROLATHYRISM IN                            the attention it deserves. It is
affects thousands of children and              ETHIOPIA: THE                              important that neurolathyrism is a
women of childbearing age. A study          BREAKEVEN POINT OF                            disease of the young that stays for
was conducted during the harvest            INTERVENTION IN THE                           life, hence any intervention has
period (February). The WHO criteria                                                       primarily to be focused on this age
for konzo were applied for 3015
                                              SOCIO-CULTURAL                              segment. Currently grass pea
family members in 487 families to                PROCESSES                                cultivation is expanding; information,
detect cases and to confirm the                                                           education and communication (IEC)
diagnosis. Food frequencies and                            A. Fikre                       on its safe consumption should be
24h diet recall were registered from                                                      spread as a minimal urgent
                                         Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Center, P. O.
487 randomly selected heads of           Box 32, Debre Zeit (Ethiopia)
                                                                                          preventive measure.
household in Popokabaka rural
health zone, DRC. Cassava flour          OBJECTIVES:           Studying      the          KEYWORDS: neurolathyrism, socio-
ready to prepare luku, the cassava       scenario of the disease over time                cultural processes, grass pea.
flour stiff porridge, for 135 persons    and space in Ethiopia so that an
distributed in 19 randomly selected      intervention     strategy    can     be
households was weighed.                  designed.                                           IS LATHYRISM STILL
RESULTS: Konzo patients were             BACKGROUND: Neurolathyrism in
detected in 33 (6.8 %) households.       Ethiopia has long been stigmatised
                                                                                           ENDEMIC IN NORTHERN
Female to male ratio of 3.3:1 was        and hosted by the community at risk              ETHIOPIA? – THE CASE OF
found. No reports on the life            for mere cultural and social taboos.                LEGAMBO WOREDA
expectancy of konzo patients were        A survey of registering victims from             (DISTRICT) IN THE SOUTH
found. High prevalence of konzo          all parts of the country with potential
was associated with female gender
                                                                                           WOLLO ZONE, AMHARA
                                         incidences was conducted in 2007
(P = 0.0024) and marital status (P =     using skilled personnel trained for                NATIONAL REGIONAL
0.030). The diet was largely             the      purpose.      Seven     major                    STATE
dominated by cassava. Luku was           administrative zones contributed
                                                                                                                  1             2
the main staple food consumed at         more than 80% of cases and the                    R. Tekle-Haimanot , A. Feleke , F.
least once during the day in 99.2 %      disease incidence was included. The                           Lambein3
of households. A median of 304 g         survey result is therefore based on
(max 592g; min 120g) of cassava          the 1461 victims assessed and that               1 Dept. of Internal Medicine, Faculty of
                                                                                          Medicine, Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia)
flour which should provide 1070 Kcal     is representative of the overall                 2 Gondar College of Medicine and Health
(max 2085 Kcal; min 422 Kcal) /          situation about the disease in the               Sciences, University of Gondar (Ethiopia)
day/ person was used to prepare          country. Description of physical                 3 IPBO, Ghent University, Ledeganckstraat 35,
luku. Saka - saka (pounded cassava                                                        9000 Ghent (Belgium)
                                         symptoms of neurolathyrism patients
leaves) (40 %), cowpeas (30 %),          was adapted as working guide,                    OBJECTIVE: This study is aimed at
sesame (23.2 %), mbondi (Salacia         which of course was supported by                 investigating whether lathyrism is
pynaertii) (18.1 %), mushrooms           studying the food history and                    still endemic in north Ethiopia based
(17.7 %) and mfumbwa (Gnetum             experience to make decision.                     on the March 26, 2004 report that
Africanum) (11.3 %) were the main        RESULTS: Duration of disease was                 appeared in the Amharic daily Addis
condiments consumed as side-             as high as 60 years with an average              Zemen,       which    indicated    the
dishes with luku.                        of 14 years. Regarding the severity              occurrence of an epidemic where
CONCLUSIONS:            The    results   of the disease more than half is in              400 people were paralyzed in
obtained showed that major foods         one stick stage (54.4%) followed by              Legambo Woreda, South Wollo
consumed are of poor quality in          the mild symptomatic stage one                   Zone of ANRS.
protein     especially    in  sulphur    (32.7%), two stick walker (7.3 %),               A house-to-house survey of 3,440
containing amino acids. Appropriate      crawling (1.7 %) and bedridden                   households was undertaken in
information, communication and           (0.07%). It was also found that                  Legambo Woreda, South Wollo
training in cassava processing and       nearly all patients (94.7%) do not               Zone of Amhara National Regional
promotion of a better balanced diet      change their residence, while the                State,        using         pre-tested
may help in the prevention of this       remainder left to look for better                questionnaires. The study subjects
paralytic disease, konzo.                option. Using a simple economic                  were identified as persons with
                                         status indicator some 88 % were                  walking difficulties due to weakness
KEYWORDS:        konzo,     cassava      identified as poor (no ox to plough              of the legs.
(Manihot esculenta), dietary pattern,    the      land).      An     interesting          BACKGROUND: Lathyrism is a
sulphur amino acids.                     characterization of the aftermath is             neurotoxic disorder caused by
                                         that most (66.4%) of the patients still          overconsumption of grass pea
                                         live on agriculture while a significant          (Lathyrus sativus). It is endemic in
                                         amount (33.6 %) had changed their                Ethiopia, India and Bangladesh. The
                                         occupation to handicraft, religious              fact that grass-pea tends to replace
                                         school, begging and the like. These              the staples during food shortages,
                                         indicate the level of interference of            makes the disease particularly
                                         the disease with socioeconomic and               important in the Ethiopian context.
                                         cultural life.

                                                                                                                                     7
RESULTS: The study identified 424              compared 22 cases of konzo, 57              Toxicological aspects
cases of lathyrism which occurred              unaffected household members and
over many years in the Woreda                  116 members from unaffected                 and other risk factors
which has a population of 171,976,             households, a total of 195 subjects
which gives a prevalence of                    in konzo-affected savanna villages,
2.5/1000. Specifically, the survey             versus 103 subjects in adjacent non-        UPTAKE OF SIMPLE
revealed that there were 48 cases              affected forest villages in the            WETTING METHOD IN
with onset occurring in 1997, 52 in            Paykongila area in Bandundu                AFRICA TO REDUCE
1998, 38 in 2000 and 37 in 2001.               Province, DRC.
The study further revealed that there          RESULTS: In the dry season the
                                                                                        CYANIDE POISONING AND
is ongoing endemicity of lathyrism in          mean value (± SEM) of urinary             KONZO FROM CASSAVA
this typical highland of north                 thiocyanate, the main cyanide                                 1          2
Ethiopia.                                      metabolite, was higher in the three          J. H. Bradbury , J. Cliff , I. C.
                                                                                                              1
CONCLUSION: It is important that               groups in konzo affected villages                      Denton
lathyrism gets the attention of                (563 ± 105, 587 ± 44 and 629 ± 47
                                                                                        1 Botany and Zoology, Research School of
relevant governmental agencies that            µmol/l) than in unaffected villages      Biology, Australian National University,
should ensure the existence of early           (241 ± 17 µmol/l). In affected           Canberra, ACT 0200 (Australia)
warning systems to deal with food              villages in the dry season when          2 Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade
shortages promptly, so that the rural          konzo incidence was high, mean           Eduardo Mondlane, CP 257, Maputo
                                                                                        (Mozambique)
population does not resort to                  urinary thiocyanate was also higher
consuming large amounts of grass               than the levels found in the wet         OBJECTIVES: The reduction of
pea. Lathyrism has to also become              season when incidence was low.           cyanide poisoning and konzo from
a reportable disease within the                The wet season values (mean ±            cassava in tropical Africa.
Ministry of Health system in those             SEM) were 344 ± 60, 381 ± 35 and         BACKGROUND:            Cassava,     the
areas of northern Ethiopia where               351 ± 27 µmol/l, respectively.           staple food of tropical Africa,
grass pea is cultivated.                       Urinary levels of inorganic sulfate      contains cyanogenic glucosides
                                               were low in all groups, indicating low   (mainly     linamarin)     which    are
KEYWORDS: lathyrism, grass pea,                intake of the sulfur amino acids         hydrolysed       by      an    enzyme
northern Ethiopia, endemic.                    which provide a substrate for            linamarase to produce cyanohydrins
                                               cyanide detoxification.                  which hydrolyse to toxic cyanide.
                                               CONCLUSION:         These     findings   Cyanide ingestion from bitter
  GEOGRAPHICAL AND                             support an aetiological role for         cassava       can     cause    cyanide
                                               cyanide in konzo. However, urinary       poisoning      with    symptoms       of
SEASONAL ASSOCIATION                           linamarin, the cyanogenic glucoside      headache, dizziness, stomach ache,
BETWEEN LINAMARIN AND                          and source of cyanide in cassava,        diarrhoea and vomiting, sometimes
  CYANIDE EXPOSURE                             was more closely associated with         leading to death. It can also produce
FROM CASSAVA AND THE                           the occurrence of konzo. The mean        konzo, an irreversible paralysis of
                                               value (± SEM) of urinary linamarin in    the legs mainly in children and
 UPPER MOTOR NEURON                            the konzo cases was 632 ± 105            young women. There are many
 DISEASE KONZO IN DRC                          µmol/l, and in their households          thousands of konzo cases in DRC,
                           1
                                               members 657 ± 52 µmol/l, which           Mozambique, Tanzania, Cameroon,
 D. Nahimana Gitebo , J.P. Banea-              was significantly higher than in
           1                 1                                                          Central African Republic and
 Mayambu , R. Nunga Matadi , T.                members of reference households in       probably Angola.
          2                  3
 Tylleskar , M. Gebre-Medhin , H.              the same village (351 ± 28 µmol/l)       RESULTS: In 2005 we developed a
              Rosling4                         and unaffected villages (147 ± 18        simple wetting method that reduces
                                               µmol/l). This suggests that a specific   the total cyanide content of cassava
1 Programme National de Nutrition
(PRONANUT) (D.R. Congo)
                                               neurotoxic effect of linamarin, rather   flour 3-6 fold. It involves wetting the
2 Department of nutrition and Department of    than associated general cyanide          flour, spreading it in a thin layer in
Pediatrics Stockholm, Uppsala University       exposure resulting from glucoside        the shade for 5 hours and using it
Hospital (Sweden)                              breakdown in the gut, may be the
 3 Unit for International Child Health,                                                 the same day to make traditional
Department of Pediatrics, Uppsala University   cause of konzo.                          thick porridge (ugali). The method
Hospital (Sweden)                                                                       was field tested in Mozambique and
4 Division for International Health care       KEYWORDS:     konzo,    cassava,
Research, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
                                                                                        readily accepted by rural women. It
(Sweden)
                                               cyanogens, cyanide, thiocyanate,         requires no additional equipment or
                                               linamarin.                               water and the ugali produced tasted
OBJECTIVES: Association between                                                         better than that from untreated flour.
konzo and cyanide exposure from                                                         Coloured,       laminated       posters
the consumption of cassava roots                                                        describing the method are available
BACKGROUND:           High    cyanide                                                   for free in 3 European and 5 African
intake     from     consumption    of                                                   languages, see web site address.
insufficiently processed cassava has                                                    Recent research has shown that an
been advanced as a possible                                                             equally effective treatment method is
aetiology of the upper motor neuron                                                     to expose wet flour in the sun for 2
disease konzo. However, similar                                                         hours. Projects for rehabilitation and
neuronal damage has not been                                                            prevention of konzo occurred in
associated with cyanide exposure                                                        Mozambique in 2007 and in 2008-9
from any other source. With an                                                          in Tanzania involving Dr N. Mlingi,
ecological      study   design,   we                                                    funded by AusAID. The Ministry of
                                                                                                                                   8
Health in Mozambique are now              resettlement schemes. Protective                previously anticipated. Also during
using our posters in Macua. In Uvira      factors of neurolathyrism include               the recent years growing and
DRC, collaborating with APAA              consumption of the gravy or                     processing of cassava has spread
Congo, the wetting method has             fermented form of the grass pea                 in regions of Southern Africa.
been taught in many villages and          food, and the combination of grass              Through a North to South Public-
500 posters distributed in Kifuliru.      pea with cereals during preparation             Private        Partnership       Pilot
CONCLUSION: We hope that the              of foods. Addition of spices and                Development Project funded by
wetting method will be used               condiments with antioxidant quality             SIDA the potential of cassava
extensively and will reduce cyanide       into particularly the gravy form of the         transformation (commercialization)
poisoning and konzo in Africa.            food was also protective.                       in Southern Africa was investigated.
                                          CONCLUSION: To reduce the                       The value chain approach research
KEYWORDS:        Konzo,  cyanide          burden         of       neurolathyrism,         included processing and chemical
poisoning, cyanogenic glucosides,         consumption of grass pea in any                 food safety of products; as varying
cassava, wetting method.                  non-mixed       forms     should     be         between regions and seen in the
                                          discouraged. Enhancing the content              light of recent risk assessments.
                                          of antioxidants and/or sulphur amino            RESULTS and CONCLUSIONS:
   RISK AND PROTECTIVE                    acids in grass pea seeds through                Cassava tubers, chips, mixed
                                          plant genetics along with reducing              biscuits (soy, groundnut, sweet
       FACTORS FOR                        the content of the neurotoxin are               potato) and flour procured from
    NEUROLATHYRISM IN                     essential.                                      households and local markets in
         ETHIOPIA                                                                         three regions of Zambia (high,
                                          KEYWORDS: neurolathyrism, grass                 medium        and      low    cassava
               H. Getahun                 pea seeds, neurotoxin, antioxidants,            consuming) and products from the
                                          sulphur amino acids.                            Northern, Central and Southern
Rue Liotard 56, Geneva (Switzerland)                                                      regions of Malawi, respectively,
                                                                                          were analyzed for total cyanogenic
OBJECTIVE: Describe risk and                                                              potential (CNp). Fresh tubers were
protective factors associated with         CHEMICAL FOOD SAFETY
                                                                                          in the interval of 40 to 210 mg HCN
neurolathyrism in Ethiopia.                OF CASSAVA PRODUCTS                            equivalents/ kg f.w. In Zambia
BACKGROUND: Neurolathyrism is                 IN GEOGRAPHICAL                             processed products from Luapula
a neglected problem of public health           REGIONS NEW TO                             Province in the North all showed low
importance in Ethiopia, which often                                                       CNp; i.e. 10 mg HCN eq./k.g. a.d.w.
occurs during times of food                 CASSAVA PRODUCTION
                                                                                          (air dried weight) or less. Processed
shortages in rural communities living         AND PROCESSING.                             samples obtained around the town
in the most inaccessible parts of the      EXAMPLES FROM AFRICA                           of Mongu, Western Province, in
country. We conducted community                                                           general were much higher in CNp.
                                                         1                    2
based       epidemiological     studies       L. Brimer , D. B. Nyirenda , L.             Thus cassava chips from Mongu
                                                              3               4
during and in the aftermath of the           Chiwona-Karltun , M. Chitundu                were analyzed to have CNp’s in the
third major neurolathyrism epidemic                                                       interval of 50 to 290 mg HCN
that occurred in Ethiopia and             1 Department of Veterinary Disease Biology,
                                                                                          eq./k.g. a.d.w. These, and similar
identified the risk factors associated    Faculty of Life Sciences, University of
                                          Copenhagen (Denmark)                            results from Malawi will be
with it.                                  2 Department of Animal Science, University of   discussed.
RESULTS: We have found that the           Zambia, Lusaka (Zambia)
risk     factors     associated    with   3 Department of Urban and Rural
                                          Development, Swedish University of              KEYWORDS: cassava, cyanogenic
neurolathyrism are quite complex          Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala (Sweden)         glucosides, food safety, processing
and of diverse nature ranging from        4 Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM)          technologies.
individual factors to household and       (Zambia)
socio-political factors. The individual
risk factors include male gender,         OBJECTIVES: Study the influence
pubertal age, blood group O and           of knowledge concerning cultivar                   STUDY ON CLIMATIC,
having a history of other illnesses       characteristics    and    processing                  EDAPHIC AND
during the epidemic. Household risk       technologies on the chemical food
                                          safety of cassava products.
                                                                                            ALTITUDINAL FACTORS
factors include illiteracy of the head                                                      AFFECTING YIELD AND
of household and ownership of             BACKGROUND: Within recent
grass pea farmland. Other cooking         years a number of risk assessments               TOXICITY OF GRASS PEA
and eating habits within the family       and proposals for maximum limits of                GROWN IN ETHIOPIA
were also found to increase the           residual cyanide and cyanogenic
household risk. This includes             compounds in food products were                                     1
                                                                                                  A. Fikre , F. Lambein , M.
                                                                                                                               2

                                          published. The EU (EFSA) and                                1            2         3
exclusive cooking of grass pea food                                                             Eshete , Y.-H. Kuo , S. Ahmed
using the traditional handmade clay       Food Standards Australia New
utensils, which are known to leach        Zealand have been active, but also              1 Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research,
                                          a number of national standards                  P.O. Box 32, Debre Zeit (Ethiopia)
iron. Consumption of the green                                                            2 Institute of Plant Biotechnology for
unripe form of the seed also              agencies in Africa took initiatives.            Developing Countries (IPBO), Ghent University
increases the risk of neurolathyrism.     The risk assessments pointed to the             (Belgium)
Other socio-political factors that        possibility, that effects harmful to            3 International Center for Agricultural Research
                                          the developing central nervous                  in Dry Areas, Aleppo (Syria)
contributed for increased risk of
neurolathyrism include politically        system (CNS) may be seen at lower
                                                                                          OBJECTIVE:     Identification of
motivated land redistribution and         systemic exposure to cyanide than               important environmental factors
                                                                                                                                        9
associated with the seed yield and        KEYWORDS: Lathyrus,                        and Co reduced the content of toxin
ß-ODAP content of grass pea.              neurolathyrism, ß-ODAP, climatic,          but excess of almost all the trace
BACKGROUND: Lathyrus sativus L.           edaphic.                                   elements enhanced aspartate and
(grass pea) is a drought tolerant                                                    glutamate contents. Deficit or
legume grown in Ethiopia as a multi-                                                 excess of almost all the trace
purpose crop for food, feed, soil                                                    elements resulted in total failure of
fertility restoration and income             EFFECT OF AGRO-                         seed formation except boron,
generation. The seeds, rich in            ECOLOGICAL FACTORS ON                      manganese and cobalt. Cobalt
protein, contain variable amounts of       THE ACCUMULATION OF                       reduced ODAP content significantly
a neuro-excitatory amino acid ß-          NEUROTOXIN AND OTHER                       and in all cases arginine and
ODAP that is held responsible for a                                                  homoarginine       were     enhanced,
                                           AMINO ACIDS IN Lathyrus                   except with Mn. In seeds ODAP,
crippling disease neurolathyrism
after prolonged over-consumption.
                                                  sativus                            asparagine       and     homoarginine
Despite all the undesired qualities                           1              2
                                                                                     contents         were        enhanced
about the crop, its rank among                M. R. Haque , Y.- H. Kuo , F.                             +3
                                                                                     significantly by Al . In callus tissues
                                                                2
                                                       Lambein                       double doses of Cu and Mo showed
principal highland legume crops is
growing fast and will surpass all in a                                               a reducing effect on the synthesis of
                                          1 Department of Biochemistry, Patuakhali
short while, both in area covered             Science and Technology University,
                                                                                     ODAP from BIA but both deficit and
and production volume because it is           Dumki, Patuakhali (Bangladesh)         excess of all other trace elements
very hardy, and has low production        2 IPBO, Ghent University, K. L.            enhanced ODAP content. Aluminium
                                              Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000, Ghent      increased the synthesis of ODAP in
cost and higher yield. Variance, path         (Belgium)
coefficient and correlation analyses                                                 callus tissues at an extremely high
were implemented to identify the          OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect          rate.
interrelations and estimate the level     of some environmental factors              Zinc had a highly significant role in
                                                                                                                           2+
of effects of climatic, edaphic/          including salinity, water stress and       reducing ODAP synthesis while Fe
geographic factors on yield and ß-        trace elements on the biosynthesis         enhanced ODAP level. ODAP was
ODAP level using ten grass pea            of β-ODAP and other amino acids in         found to form stable chelates with
                                                                                        2+               65  2+
genotypes grown for two seasons           Lathyrus sativus seeds and callus          Zn . The ODAP: Zn chelate was
(2005 - 2006) at five eco-divergent       tissues.                                   taken up and readily transported to
                                                                                                             2+
locations.                                BACKGROUND: L. sativus plants              the shoot top of Zn -deficient L.
RESULTS: Analysis of variance             were grown in the fields of the            sativus plants much quicker than the
indicated that crop yield, yield          coastal belt of Bangladesh, in             chelate of Zn2+ with any other
                                          artificially salinised soils, in sand      organic ligands (BIA, glutamate,
related parameters and ß-ODAP
                                          culture and in hydroponic nutrient         aspartate, etc.) tested. Increase in
levels       revealed      considerable                                              the phosphorus/zinc ratio, rather
variability among locations, years        solutions to investigate the effect of
                                          salinity on ODAP and on other free         than the phosphorus or zinc content
and genotypes. Path coefficient                                                      of the plant and seed, correlated
analysis indicated that days to           amino acids. Experiments with
                                          habituated callus tissue by feeding        significantly with the increase in
maturity had the most positive direct                                                ODAP accumulation. Slightly acidic
effect on yield while the dominant        radioactive BIA ([ß-(isoxazolin-5-
                                          one-2-yl)-alanine], the biosynthetic       to near-neutral pH of the medium
variables with high total effect (r >                                                                            2+
                                                                                     resulted in the highest Zn and the
0.75) on ß-ODAP under field               precursor of ODAP, were also done
                     +                    to study the effect at cellular levels.    lowest P/Zn ratio of L. sativus plant
conditions were K , sunshine hours                                                   and seed, where seed also had the
                                          RESULTS: Low to medium salinity
(ssh) and days to maturity,                                                          lowest ODAP values.
                                          reduced ODAP and other excitatory
suggesting for due consideration in                                                  CONCLUSIONS: β-ODAP content
                                          amino acids (aspartic acid and
the crop ß-ODAP management.               glutamic acid) in L. sativus, while        of the grass pea seeds is variable
From linear correlation analysis, we      very high salinity enhanced those          and depends on the environmental
                +
found that K , long reported to be        amino acids. Homoarginine, arginine        conditions (salinity, water supply and
high in Ethiopian soil, and ssh           and cysteine were increased several        presence of trace elements) where
positively; while pH, days to maturity    fold by increased salinity. In callus      grass pea grows. Ample evidence
and yield negatively have the             tissues the conversion of BIA into         suggests that ODAP might have a
                                                                                                                           2+
strongest correlations (>0.70) with ß-    ODAP decreases proportionately             role as the biological carrier of Zn
ODAP levels among 35 factors              with the increase in salinity of the       in L. sativus plants.
considered in this study for Ethiopia.    medium.
CONCLUSIONS: Optimization of              Water stress (-0.14 to -0.9 Mpa)           Keywords: neurotoxin ODAP,
production conditions for grass pea       resulted in enhanced syntheses of          Lathyrus sativus, callus, BIA, trace
could give a double advantage             ODAP and other excitatory amino            elements.
simultaneously of higher yield and        acids. The trends of homoarginine,
lower      toxicity.   The    strongest   arginine and cysteine accumulation
correlation of sunshine hours with ß-     under water stress were similar to
ODAP level during the phase of crop       those occurring under salinity stress.
maturity (ssh III) in this study may      Conversion of BIA into ODAP in
suggest that ß-ODAP biosynthesis          callus tissues increased linearly with
and its response to environmental         the increase in osmotic potential.
stress could be highest during post-      In L. sativus seed, optimum (as in
anthesis.                                 Hoagland nutrient solution) and
                                          double doses of Cu, Mo, B, Mn, I

                                                                                                                         10
  β-ODAP ACCUMULATION                          levels of endogenous H2O2 in the               risks of exposure to cyanides in the
  COULD BE RELATED TO                          leaves under either field conditions           recipes containing the unfermented
                                               or osmotic stress.                             cassava.
  LOW LEVELS OF H2O2 IN                                                                       CONCLUSIONS: In order to fight
   LATHYRUS SATIVUS L.                         KEYWORDS: Lathyrus sativus L., β-              effectively against the extension of
   (GRASS PEA) LEAVES                          ODAP, H2O2, accumulation, PEG.                 the epidemic of konzo in the new
                                                                                              pockets with high prevalence, an
C.J. Jiao, Y.C. Xiong, C.Li, L.M. Ke,                                                         investigation of prevalence and
J.L. Jiang, X.Y. Wang, F.M. Li, Z.X.             IMPROVEMENT OF THE                           consumption should be planned in
           Li, C.Y. Wang*                                                                     order to establish the status of the
                                                    TECHNIQUES OF                             disease in the zones where the
Key Laboratory of Arid Agroecology under the    DETOXIFICATION OF THE                         basic food largely consists of fresh
  Ministry of Education / Institute of Cell
  Biology, School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou
                                                LOCAL CASSAVA FOOD IN                         or slightly fermented manioc in the
  University, Lanzhou (China)                    DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC                          context of current poverty.

OBJECTIVES:          To      find     the
                                                      OF CONGO                                KEYWORDS:         Cassava       food,
relationship between levels of β-                                           1                 cyanides, konzo, detoxified food.
                                                    D. L. M. C. Yandju , O. N. G.
ODAP and H2O2 in grass pea.                                   1              2
                                                      Kabena , Y. D. Masika
BACKGROUND: Toxin β-ODAP (β-
N-oxalyl-L-α,β-diaminopropionic                                                                    ARE EXISTING
acid), a causative agent of lathyrism,         1 Laboratory of Applied Microbiology and
exists in both seeds and vegetative
                                               Nutrition, Department of Biology, Faculty of
                                               Science, University of Kinshasa (DRC)
                                                                                                   TRADITIONAL
tissues of grass pea. Previous                 2 Department of Biology, ISP Gombe,             PROCESSING METHODS
studies have shown that drought                Kinshasa (DRC)                                  PRODUCING SAFE FOOD
stress can increase β-ODAP levels                                                                   PRODUCTS?
and also lead to the generation of             OBJECTIVES: We have made a
H2O2 in the plant. It is important to          study     on   the    evaluation    of                              1             2
                                               techniques of treatment of cassava                 D. B. Nyirenda , L. Brimer , L.
find out the relationship between the                                                                   Chiwona-Karltun3
levels of β-ODAP and H2O2 during               and        propose      technological
water deficit and get an insight into          improvements in order to maximize
                                                                                              1Department of Animal Science, University of
the     mechanism        of     β-ODAP         the elimination of cyanides in                 Zambia, Lusaka (Zambia); 2Dept of Veterinary
accumulation.       Therefore,      their      various cassava based foods in                 Disease Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences,
                                               DRC.                                           University of Copenhagen (Denmark); 3Dept of
contents in leaves were investigated                                                          Urban and Rural Development, Swedish
under different growth conditions.             BACKGROUND: For more than half                 University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala
RESULTS:          Under     the     field      of the Congolese population,                   (Sweden)
conditions with normal watering,               cassava constitutes the principal
                                               source of energy. To reduce the                OBJECTIVES: A North to South
higher contents of β-ODAP (0.963
mg/g FW for young and 1.233 mg/g               risks of exposure to cyanides and to           Public Private Partnership Pilot
FW for mature leaves) and lower                increase the shelf life of cassava,            Development       Research    Project
                                               the autochthones developed several             funded by SIDA was carried out to
levels of H2O2 (8 µmol/g FW for
                                               techniques of preparation and                  investigate the potential of cassava
young and 0.846 µmol/g FW for
                                               transformation of the cassava with             transformation (commercialization)
mature leaves) occurred in 15-day-
                                               varied meals. By taking account of             in Southern Africa.
old seedlings. However, very little β-
ODAP (0.096 mg/g FW for young                  the strong dependence of the                   BACKGROUND: The value chain
                                               populations with respect to cassava            approach research included cassava
and 0.052 mg/g FW for mature
                                               and the persistence of the pockets             processing     and     food    safety.
leaves) and markedly high contents
                                               of konzo in DRC, fermentation                  Samples of cassava tubers, cassava
of H2O2 (25.152 µmol/g FW for
                                               following steeping with water made             chips and flour procured from
young and 50.426 µmol/g FW for
                                               up       the      only      technical          households and local markets in
mature leaves) was detected in 60-
day-old plants. Under the drought              recommendation for elimination of              three areas of Zambia (high,
                                               cyanides in the manioc. And yet,               medium       and     low     cassava
/osmotic      stress     induced       by
                                               there exist many recipes containing            consuming) were analysed for
polyethylene glycol (PEG), young
                                               the non fermented cassava which                cyanogenic glucosides equivalents
leaves from 12-day-old seedlings
                                               enter the basic diet of much of the            content.
contained higher levels of β-ODAP
and lower H2O2, but the mature                 Congolese population.                          RESULTS: The results revealed
leaves showed lower levels of β-               RESULTS:        Fourteen    identified         great variability in cyanogenic
                                               recipes of manioc were analyzed                equivalents in the various processed
ODAP and higher H2O2, compared
                                               and improved during their cooking.             cassava chips and flour samples.
with the control. Furthermore, the
                                               Five practical techniques allowed to           Some samples contained low
detached leaves pretreated with
                                               reduce the cyanides contained in the           cyanide content (0 to less than 10
exogenous H2O2 exhibited less β-
                                               fresh      manioc     by     65-90%.           mg HCN eq/kg) which is within the
ODAP, but higher levels of β-ODAP
                                               Fermentation, steeping in water and            recommended WHO level of 10mg
were detected when pretreated with
                                               exposing to the free air constitutes           HCN eq/kg maximum for human
exogenous pyridine, an inhibitor of
                                               the best method of detoxification.             consumption.       Other     samples
H2O2-generating NADPH oxidase,
                                               However, a combination of steeping             contained up to 294 mg HCN eq/kg
compared         to     the      control.
                                               in water and continued evaporation             after processing.
CONCLUSIONS:            The      present
results    indicate that        β-ODAP         during cooking of manioc made it               The results showed that traditional
                                               possible to appreciably reduce the             cassava processing and consuming
accumulation could be related to low
                                                                                                                                      11
areas like Kaoma and Luapula              LATHYRISM IN NORTH                         it with other crops, applying different
produced products containing 10 or          SHEWA ZONE OF                            processing/detoxification    methods
less mg HCN eq/kg cyanide content,                                                   are among the other ways that
indicating that the processing           ETHIOPIA: ASSESSMENT                        farmers in this area use to minimize
technology      meets     the   WHO       OF SOCIO ECONOMIC                          the effect of the toxin.
standard. The results for gari flour      FACTORS AFFECTING                          CONCLUSION: Since grass pea is
from the farmers who had been           GRASS PEA CONSUMPTON                         consumed with a fear of lathyrism,
trained in this new Nigerian                                                         future research should concentrate
technology showed no cyanide at all
                                             AND FARMERS                             either on developing a grass pea
and the product is of good quality         PERCEPTION ON ITS                         variety with a safe and/or low level
and was liked by consumers. The         EFFECT AND PREVENTION                        of ODAP content or improving the
fermented cassava chips and flour              METHODS                               traditional/indigenous     processing
procured from the households and                                                     methods such as soaking method
markets      in   the     town    and        A. Girma, B. Tefera, L. Dadi            and time, washing and washing
neighbourhood of Mongu showed                                                        frequency, heating and time of
varied and high levels of cyanogenic    Debre Brehan Agricultural Research Center,   heating.
equivalents (49 to 293 mg HCN           P.O.BOX 112, Debre Brehan (Ethiopia)
eq/kg). Fresh roots showed high                                                      KEYWORDS: grass pea, lathyrism,
                                        OBJECTIVE: Study of grass pea
cyanogenic equivalents content that                                                  farmers’ indigenous knowledge,
                                        production, processing, consumption
also varied within local (from Monze,                                                Ethiopia.
Southern province of Zambia) and        and farmers’ indigenous knowledge
hybrid varieties (from Chongwe, in      about its toxicity and related attitude
                                        towards its consumption.
Lusaka province). The hybrid                                                          PERCEPTIONS OF KONZO
                                        BACKGROUND:            Lathyrism      in
varieties ranged from 91 to 212 mg
HCN eq/kg and local varieties from
                                        Ethiopia is caused by food                        IN AFFECTED
                                        dependency on grass pea (Lathyrus                POPULATIONS IN
37 to 185 mg HCN eq/kg.
                                        Sativus L., Guaya in amharic), an
CONCLUSIONS: These results
                                        environmentally        tolerant      but
                                                                                       KAHEMBA TERRITORY
indicate that the sampled local and                                                        D. R. CONGO
                                        potentially neurotoxic legume that
hybrid cassava varieties in Zambia
                                        resists the prevailing droughts.
do contain high level of cyanogenic                                                                             1
                                                                                       A. Mulumba Nkuadi , J.P. Banea-
                                        RESULTS: Both primary and
glucosides and that the traditional                                                               2
                                                                                          Mayambu , Malela Pingudi
                                                                                                                   3
                                        secondary data were used. Primary
fermentation processing technology
                                        data were collected from 100
is adequate to remove the cyanide                                                    1 School of Nutrition and Dietetics, ISTM,
                                        farmers from two sub-districts using
toxicity. However, the differences in                                                University of Kinshasa (DRC)
                                        two-stage random sampling from
the cyanide levels of processed                                                      2 Programme National de Nutrition, Ministère
                                        purposively selected districts of
products would indicate a very                                                       de la Santé, Kinshasa (DRC)
                                        north Shoa, Ethiopia. In the study           3 Zone de santé de Kahemba, Bandundu
serious flaw in processing by those
living near or selling products to      area, a large proportion of the              province (DRC)
cities, either resulting from making    farmers are growing grass pea since
                                        it withstands harsh environment and          OBJECTIVES:         Identification    of
short cuts in post harvest processing
                                        it is a good source of protein and           perceptions of the local populations
or that the environment may affect
                                        energy, where different food types           on konzo for better targeting of
the level of cyanide in the tubers.                                                  appropriate interventions.
                                        /dishes are prepared from it. Socio
This alarming result would indicate
                                        economic (poverty; lack of money to          BACKGROUND: Konzo is spastic
exposure to cyanide toxicity and
                                        buy other food legumes) and                  paralysis reported in several remote
increased risk for konzo. This will
                                        technical (i.e. pests, water logging,        areas     in   sub-Saharan       Africa,
need further investigation to improve
                                        frost    hazards,     etc)    problems       particularly in the province of
the processing technology such that
                                        influence consumption of grass pea.          Bandundu, DRC. Although the
a product from any source done by
                                        Most of respondents have the idea            precise aetiology is not yet
the same processing technology
                                        that some chemical contained in              highlighted       in         Bandundu,
should produce the same good
                                        grass pea causes the health                  implementation in Bandundu in 2000
quality (no cyanide) results. This
                                        problem. This poses a problem on             of the programs of nutritional
also emphasises the importance of
                                        its      production,        processing,      education accepted by the local
developing quality and safety
                                        preparation      and      consumption.       population,     and    targeted      on
standards by which to assess and                                                     sufficient soaking of more than 3
regulate cassava products on the        Different processing and preparation
                                        methods are used to prepare grass            days and sufficient drying of more
market.
                                        pea into different food forms. The           than 2 days, with the diversification
                                        major processing methods include             of food, resulted in a decrease of
KEYWORDS: cassava, cyanogenic
                                        washing and soaking. The farmers             konzo occurrence in the centre of
glucosides, food safety, processing                                                  Bandundu. From 111 cases reported
                                        are applying these methods mainly
technologies.
                                        because they assume that the                 in 1998, only one case was so far
                                        amount of chemical that causes               reported in the centre of Bandundu.
                                        lathyrism, ODAP (β-N-oxalyl-α,β–             In order to prepare a similar durable
                                        diaminopropionic acid), is reduced           program of nutritional education for
                                        through continuous washing and               the Territory of Kahemba in the
                                        soaking. Mixing grass pea porridge           South of Bandundu an investigation
                                        with     milk/butter,     grass     pea      into the perception of konzo was
                                        consumed as ‘kita’, blending/mixing

                                                                                                                                  12
held in the konzo affected villages of         in duration of steaming decreases              monotonous diet of Lathyrus sativus
the territory of Kahemba.                      the ODAP content with a few                    is likely to generate nutritional
RESULTS: Among 420 inhabitants                 changes in nutritional quality of              deficiencies and it is proposed that
in the 3 villages, we identified, using        products, which have also been                 one of these, plasma methionine
the WHO criteria, 22 konzo cases, of           studied. The maximum ODAP                      deficiency,      may       predispose
which 8 were from the year 2007.               reduction was 61.46% under the                 neurones to the neurotoxic effects of
Most of the inhabitants in affected            treatment of tartaric acid (5%, 5 hrs)         β-ODAP. In the case of konzo
villages     were    the      displaced        with loss of 4.22% protein, 25.5% of           cyanide released from cyanogenic
populations from Angola in 2004 or             carbohydrate and 5.55% of sugar.               glycosides, reacts with plasma
2005. In affected villages 36% of              CONCLUSION: The result of                      cystine. Subjects suffering from
inhabitants think that konzo results           steaming process reveals that                  konzo have low plasma cystine
from a bad fate of the ancestors,              increase in duration of processing             concentrations, probably resulting
25% attribute konzo to their drinking          decreases the neurotoxin with a                from the reaction of cystine with
water and 25% to the alteration of             minimum loss in quality of products.           cyanide      to    form      2-imino-4-
cassava in the soil. Only 14%                                                                 thiazolidine carboxylic acid. Since
attribute konzo to cyanide exposure            KEYWORDS:      Lathyrus sativus,               both plasma methionine and cystine
from the consumption of shortly                neurotoxin (ODAP), detoxification,             are used for glutathione synthesis it
soaked cassava roots.                          steaming.                                      seems likely that one common
CONCLUSION:          Adherence       to                                                       feature that leads to motor neurone
sufficient soaking and drying has                                                             death in neurolathyrism and konzo is
been an efficient means to prevent                                                            the depletion of neural glutathione. It
konzo in Central Bandundu. In
                                                Neurobiological aspects                       is known that depletion in vitro of
Kahemba, populations need to be                                                               glutathione in neural cell cultures
well informed on konzo in order to                                                            increases the sensitivity of neurones
get their participation in any                 BRAIN GLUTATHIONE AS A                         to glutamate excitotoxicity.
intervention that can be planned in                  TARGET FOR                               CONCLUSIONS: It is proposed that
that area, such as nutrition                    AETIOLOGICAL FACTORS                          a major mechanism that precipitates
education.                                     IN NEUROLATHYRISM AND                          the dietary-related upper motor
                                                                                              neurone diseases neurolathyrism
KEYWORDS:         konzo,   cassava,                    KONZO                                  and konzo is the depletion of
nutrition education, Kahemba.                                   1                         2   glutathione within the          central
                                                  P. B. Nunn , J. R. A. Lyddiard              nervous system. The role of ancillary
                                                                                              components, β-ODAP and 2-imino-
                                               1 School of Pharmacy and Biomedical
    DETOXIFICATION OF                          Sciences, University of Portsmouth (UK).       4-thiazolidine carboxylic acid, will be
                                               2 School of Biomedical Sciences, King’s        discussed.
    LATHYRUS SATIVUS:                          College London (UK)
   REDUCTION OF TOXIC                                                                         KEYWORDS:             neurolathyrism,
                                               OBJECTIVE: To review the roles of
 PRINCIPLE 3-N-OXALYL-L-                       plasma sulphur amino acids in
                                                                                              konzo,       cystine,    methionine,
  2,3-DIAMINOPROPIONIC                                                                        glutathione.
                                               neurological diseases of dietary
ACID (ODAP) BY STEAMING                        origin.
PROCESS: A HOUSEHOLD                           BACKGROUND:           The      chronic
                                               neurological                diseases                  AN IMPROVED
        APPROACH
                                               neurolathyrism and konzo are                     NEUROLATHYRISM RAT
                      1                  2     associated with the nutritional                  MODEL: IMPAIRED VEGF
        A. K. Geda , R .L. Pandey
                                               dependence of human populations
                                               on a single plant food. In each case
                                                                                                   SYSTEMS HAVE A
1 Department of Medicinal & Aromatic Plant
Sciences, Indira Gandhi Krishi                 the disease expresses itself as a                 CRITICAL ROLE IN THE
Vishwavidyalaya, Raipur 492006 (India)         primary disorder of upper motor                    DEGENERATION OF
2 Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics,
Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Raipur
                                               neurones, leading to clinical signs                MOTOR NEURONS
(India)                                        and      symptoms        that      are
                                               characteristic      of        sporadic                                 1                 1
                                                                                               K. Kusama-Eguchi , Y. Yamazaki ,
BACKGROUND: In the present                     amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (motor                         2            3
                                                                                                  F. Ikegami , F. Lambein , T.
study, detoxification of Lathyrus              neurone disease). The plant food                            Kusama
                                                                                                                    1
seeds by a steaming process is an              associated with neurolathyrism is
economical       and       household           the seed of Lathyrus sativus. This             1 College of Pharmacy, Nihon University,
approach to minimize the neurotoxin            seed contains the neurotoxic amino             Funabashi, Chiba (Japan)
component i.e. 3-N-oxalyl-L-2,3-                                                              2 Center for Environment, Health and Field
                                               acid β-N-oxalyl-α,β-diaminopropionic           Sciences, Chiba University, Kashiwa, Chiba
diaminopropionic     acid    (ODAP),           acid (β-ODAP). The plant food                  (Japan)
without affecting the quality of               associated with konzo is cassava               3 Institute of Plant Biotechnology for
protein, sugar and carbohydrates.              which, when improperly processed,              Developing Countries (IPBO), Ghent University
                                                                                              (Belgium)
RESULTS: The results indicate that             contains significant concentrations
steaming of seeds reduces 50 to 62             of     a   cyanogenic      glycoside.          OBJECTIVE:       Elucidating       the
percent of ODAP content. The                   Mechanistic studies have shown that            pathology of neurolathyrism using a
seeds are pre-soaked in edible non-            β-ODAP has numerous effects                    rat model.
toxic    chemicals     at     different        within the central nervous system              BACKGROUND: Neurolathyrism is
concentrations and intervals of time.          that potentially may result in                 a     motor     neuron       disease
The results also reveal that increase          neuronal     death.    However,      a         characterized   by     lower     limb
                                                                                                                                       13
paraparesis and associated with a                                                              UNRAVELING THE
plant excitotoxin β-N-oxalyl-L-α,β-           OBJECTIVE:            To       elucidate
                                              biomarkers and mechanisms of                   MECHANISM OF β-ODAP
diaminopropionic acid (L-β-ODAP),
an agonist of AMPA/kainate-type               konzo.                                       INDUCED EXCITOTOXICITY
glutamatergic receptors. We have              BACKGROUND: Konzo is an upper                 AND OXIDATIVE STRESS,
reported     a     rat    model     of        motor neuron disease that affects                 RELEVANCE FOR
neurolathyrism to study the aetiology         populations with heavy reliance on
                                              insufficiently processed cyanogen-
                                                                                               NEUROLATHYRISM
of human neurolathyrism.
RESULTS: As the incidence of the              rich cassava as staple food. Disease               PREVENTION
model rat was quite low, another              outbreaks have been reported in
                                              Sub-Saharan countries notably in              M. Van Moorhem1, F. Lambein2, L.
condition with separation-starvation
                                              the Democratic Republic of Congo                         Leybaert1
resulted in the 4.6 fold higher
incidence of the paraparesis in               and Mozambique but also in Central
                                                                                           1 Department of Physiology and
newborn pups. In the adult (up to 36          African Republic, Tanzania, and              Pathophysiology, Ghent University, Ghent
week) paraparetic rats, the numbers           possibly Angola and Uganda. The              (Belgium). 2 Institute of Plant Biotechnology for
as well as the sizes of motor                 disease mainly affects children and          Developing Countries (IPBO), Ghent
                                              women of childbearing age for                University, Ghent (Belgium)
neurons (MN) were measured
thoroughly from cervical to sacral            reasons that are not understood.
                                                                                           OBJECTIVES:               β-N-oxalyl-α,β-
spinal cord resulting in the                  The mechanisms by which the
                                                                                           diaminopropionic acid (β-ODAP) –
prominent decreases only in the               disease preferentially strikes the
                                                                                           present in L. sativus seeds - is a
lumbar and sacral cord. In addition           central motor system have yet to be
                                                                                           glutamate analogue at α-amino-3-
to these insults, the surviving motor         elucidated.
                                                                                           hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole
neurons     revealed      pathological        RESULTS: Epidemiological studies
                                                                                           propionic acid (AMPA)/kainate (KA)
insults typical of physical and               conducted across konzo-affected
                                                                                           receptors in motor neurons and
ischemic spinal cord injury. In the           areas      consistently      show        a
                                                                                           therefore potentially acts as an
early period of treatment, we found           relationship between the onset of
                                                                                           excitotoxic substance. Additionally,
extensive but transient hemorrhage            disease outbreaks, poor nutrition,
                                                                                           L. sativus seeds are deficient in the
to occur in their spinal cord                 and increased consumption of
                                                                                           sulphur-containing        amino       acids
parenchyma located at the ventral             insufficiently processed cyanogen-
                                                                                           methionine (Met) and cysteine
side associated with numerous                 rich      (bitter)     cassava         as
                                                                                           (Cys). In the present work we aimed
TUNEL-positive cells. In parallel,            demonstrated by very high levels of
                                                                                           at investigating the effect of β-ODAP
vascular endothelial growth factor            the principal cyanide metabolite                                      2+
                                                                                           on the cellular Ca            homeostasis
receptor (VEGFR)-2 (Flk-1) levels             thiocyanate (SCN, up to thousands
                                                                                           and the role of oxidative stress to
were significantly lower in the               µmol/L in serum/urine) in subjects
                                                                                           define prevention of neurolathyrism.
lumbo-sacral spinal cord of the               affected by the disease. Clinical and
                                                                                           BACKGROUND:                       Chronic
paraparesis rats compared to their            electrophysiological studies suggest
                                                                                           consumption of L. sativus seeds can
controls suggesting a failure to              a pre-synaptic failure in the upper
                                                                                           result in the neurodegenerative
protect neurons through VEGF                  motor system. The culpable agent
                                                                                           disease neurolathyrism. β-ODAP is
receptors against the neurotoxicity           responsible for cassava-associated
                                                                                           proposed to be the causative agent,
of L-β-ODAP.                                  motor system disease remains
                                                                                           especially     as       an      excitotoxic
CONCLUSION: The early insult on               unknown.         Laboratory      studies
                                                                                           substance. A          key factor          in
the vasculature was observed with             indicate that oxidative metabolism of
                                                                                           excitotoxic neuronal cell death is a
simultaneous        motor      neuron         cyanide       is     favored       under                                               2+
                                                                                           disturbance of the intracellular Ca
apoptosis during the early, critical          circumstances of sulfur amino acid
                                                                                           homeostasis. Epidemiological data
period of this rat neurolathyrism             (SAA) deficiency leading to an
                                                                                           suggest that balancing the diet with
model.                                        increased production of cyanate
                                                                                           Met and Cys containing foods
ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This work                     (OCN), a protein-carbamoylating
                                                                                           significantly lowers the risk for
was supported by a grant from the             agent. Therefore, culpable agents in
                                                                                           neurolathyrism.
Ministry of Education, Culture,               the pathogenesis of konzo include                                                      2+
                                                                                           RESULTS:         To         study      Ca
Sports, Science and Technology of             CN (improbable), SCN (AMPA
                                                                                           homeostasis,        the       photoprotein
Japan to promote multi-disciplinary           receptor chaotrope, conceivable),
                                                                                           aequorin was used in N2a
research projects.                            and/or       OCN        (a      protein-
                                                                                           neuroblastoma cells to investigate
                                              carbamoylating        agent,      likely).
                                                                                           Ca2+ dynamics specifically in the
KEYWORDS: rat model, motor                    Ongoing       modeling     studies      in
                                                                                           cytosol,     ER      or      mitochondria.
neuron, VEGF, apoptosis, stressor.            laboratory animals seek biomarkers
                                                                                           Treatment of N2a cells with β-ODAP
                                              and       molecular        mechanisms
                                                                                           (24 h) enhanced bradykinin (BK) -
                                              associated         with       linamarin                      2+
                                                                                           induced      Ca        transients       and
                                              intoxication under conditions of SAA
ON THE MECHANISMS AND                                                                      endoplasmic Ca2+ uptake. Moreover,
                                              deficiency.
 BIOMARKERS OF KONZO                                                                       BK-triggered mitochondrial Ca2+
                                                                                           uptake was stimulated by 35 %.
                                              KEYWORDS: konzo, sulfur amino
        D. Tshala-Katumbay                                                                 Additionally,      the       mitochondrial
                                              acid     deficiency, linamarin,
                                              biomarkers, cassava.                         membrane potential (Ψm) was more
   Center for Research on Occupational and                                                 negative after β-ODAP treatment.
   Environmental Toxicology & Department                                                   Oxidative stress was studied by
   of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science                                                   evaluating survival of primary motor
   University, Portland OR (USA), &
   Department of Neurology, Kinshasa                                                       neurons after treatment with β-
   University, Democratic Republic of Congo                                                ODAP, including antioxidants in the
   (DRC)
                                                                                                                                        14
treatment medium. Both Met and                     CONCLUSION: To maximize grass               differentially caused by the isomers
Cys protected the neurons from β-                  pea benefits, an experimental               of crotononitrile: cis-crotononitrile
ODAP induced toxicity.                             animal model is needed to dissect           causes sensory toxicity whereas
CONCLUSION:         The    emerging                the range of risk and protective            trans-crotononitrile     causes    the
working hypothesis is that the β-                  factors that influence the possible         neuronal effect. IDPN also causes a
ODAP-triggered hyperpolarisation of                outcomes of excessive grass pea             neurofilamentous           axonopathy
Ψm with increased mitochondrial                    consumption.                                affecting both the central and the
Ca2+ uptake is an early event in the                                                           peripheral nervous systems. In
excitotoxicity of this neurotoxin.                 KEYWORDS:            neurolathyrism,        addition, dimethylaminopropionitrile
Oxidative stress is also involved in               malnutrition, bioassay, risk factors,       is known to cause autonomic
β-ODAP induced motor neuron                        protective factors.                         (genitourinary) neurotoxicity in both
death, indicating that antioxidant                                                             humans and rodents. Some of these
supplements in the diet may prevent                                                            actions appear to depend on
people         from       developing                    A NEW UNIFYING                         metabolic bioactivation of the
neurolathyrism.                                                                                parental nitriles by enzymes that
                                                     CHEMICAL HYPOTHESIS                       display notable sex-, age- and
KEYWORDS: excitotoxicity, calcium                    ON LATHYRISM, KONZO                       species-dependent differences in
homeostasis, mitochondria, β-                        AND TROPICAL ATAXIC                       expression       levels.     Recently,
ODAP, oxidative stress.                                  NEUROPATHY                            neuronal degeneration has been
                                                                                               found in rats exposed to acetone
                                                                    J. Llorens                 cyanohydrin.
                                                                                               CONCLUSION: The             neurotoxic
 A SUITABLE BIOASSAY IS                                                                        properties of nitriles make them
                                                   Departament de Ciències Fisiològiques II,
    NEEDED TO MODEL                                Universitat de Barcelona, Hospitalet de     ideal candidate causative agents for
   LATHYRISM IN MONO-                              Llobregat (Spain)                           konzo, lathyrism and tropical ataxic
    GASTRIC ANIMALS                                OBJECTIVE: This communication               neuropathy. This hypothesis has still
                                                                                               little direct support, but further
                                                   will review data supporting an
                D. Enneking                                                                    investigation seems warranted.
                                                   alternative unifying hypothesis on
                                                   the causative agents for these
School of Food and Agriculture, University of                                                  KEYWORDS: Konzo, lathyrism.
Adelaide, Waite Agricultural Research Institute,   diseases, namely, that they are
                                                                                               tropical ataxic neuropathy, nitriles,
Waite Rd. Glen Osmond , 5064 South Australia       nitriles,    compounds       containing
                                                                                               cyanogenic       glycosides,       2-
(Australia)                                        cyano groups.
                                                                                               cyanoethyl-isoxazolin-5-one.
                                                   BACKGROUND:              Konzo      and
OBJECTIVES: To discuss the need                    lathyrism are two similar diseases
for    a     bioassay      to     model            associated with consumption of two
neurolathyrism in combination with                 different toxic plants. In addition to           VISUAL EVOKED
contributing factors.                              konzo, cassava consumption has
BACKGROUND: It is well known
                                                                                                  POTENTIALS IN KONZO
                                                   also been associated with a third
that      neurolathyrism       is      a           disease, tropical ataxic neuropathy                            1                  2
consequence of eating too much                                                                  L. K. Nyamabo , J. C. Mwanza , D.
                                                   (TAN).      Widely      accepted     but                             3
grass pea. Malnutrition and oxidative                                                                   Tshala–Katumbay .
                                                   unproven hypotheses are that β-
stress appear to be prerequisite                   ODAP is the causative agent for             1 Université de Kinshasa, Faculté de
factors leading to the onset of                    lathyrism, and that cyanide or              Médecine, Département de Neurologie (D.R.
neurodegeneration. There is no                     cyanide      metabolites     are     the    Congo)
animal     model      that    combines                                                         2 Université de Kinshasa, Faculté de
                                                   causative agents for konzo and              Médécine, Service d’Ophtalmologie (D.R.
predisposing factors with grass pea                TAN. The diseases would be caused           Congo)
consumption in order to replicate the              by different but similar nitriles           3 Oregon Health & Science University (USA)
symptoms        of       neurolathyrism            through direct neurotoxic actions
observed in humans.                                                                            OBJECTIVES: To assess whether
                                                   requiring no cyanide release.
RESULTS: There are numerous                                                                    or not visual evoked potentials
                                                   Cassava nitriles include linamarin,
older    reports     about      animals                                                        (VEPs) are abnormal in konzo, a
                                                   lotaustralin, acetone cyanohydrin,
occasionally being intoxicated by                                                              para/tetraparesis of sudden onset,
                                                   and 2-hydroxy-2-methylbutyronitrile.        and to correlate the findings to the
grass     pea     containing      feeds.           Lathyrus seeds contain at least 2-
Generally, grass pea appears to be                                                             clinical picture of the disorder.
                                                   cyanoethyl-isoxazolin-5-one. Other
a useful and nourishing ingredient                                                             BACKGROUND:              VEPs     were
                                                   nitriles can be generated during food
for animal diets. Why is grass pea                                                             recorded in 23 patients (9 men and
                                                   processing,         which      includes
only    toxic    in     very    specific                                                       14 women, mean age: 23 ± 10
                                                   fermentation and/or cooking.
circumstances? Is a reduction in                                                               years) suffering from konzo, and 38
                                                   RESULTS: Available data indicate            healthy subjects (20 men and 18
dietary ODAP intake sufficient to                  that a number of small structurally
prevent neurodegeneration? What                                                                women, mean age: 27 ± 15 years).
                                                   related nitriles cause a rich variety of
are the thresholds for safe                                                                    The mean P100 latencies and peak-
                                                   neurotoxic effects. In experimental
consumption of grass pea? How do                                                               to-peak N75-P100 amplitudes of
                                                   animals,        3,3’-iminodipropionitrile
other dietary, environmental and                                                               each eye were measured and
                                                   (IDPN) and allylnitrile are toxic to
genetic factors contribute to the                                                              compared in the two groups. The
                                                   sensory         systems        whereas      mean interocular P100 latency and
onset       of      neurodegenerative              hexadienenitrile cause selective
symptoms? Which nutrients have                                                                 amplitude        differences      were
                                                   neuronal degeneration in discrete
protective functions?                                                                          calculated and also compared.
                                                   brain nuclei. These effects are

                                                                                                                                         15
RESULTS: VEPs were abnormal in               Using rat primary neurons and                  OBJECTIVES: The aim of the
11/23 patients (48%) consisting of           NSC34 cell line, the role of SAA on            present work was to determine the
P100 prolongation (7 subjects),              cell viability was evaluated.                  role of oxidative stress on β-ODAP-
absence of P100 wave (2 subjects)            RESULTS: When both SAAs were                   triggered cell death in motor neurons
or an atypical waveform (2 subjects).        deprived from the medium, the                  and glial cells.
The mean P100 latency value of the           toxicity of L-β-ODAP was greatly               BACKGROUND: The excitatory
konzo group was significantly                increased       examined       by   the        amino         acid       β-N-oxalyl-α,β-
increased as compared with the               mitochondrial activity. The increased          diaminopropionic acid (β-ODAP) is
mean (+2.5 SD) of the reference              toxicity was affected by agents that           present in grass pea and is related
values     from    healthy    subjects       affect intracellular glutathione and           to the neurodegenerative disease
(p<0.05). There was a statistically          other unknown factors controlling              neurolathyrism. β-ODAP acts as an
significant decrease of amplitude in         ROS level. In fact, ethacrynic acid            agonist of AMPA/KA receptors and
konzo patients compared to normal            (EA) that lowers mitochondrial                 metabotropic glutamate receptors, it
                                                                                                          +
subjects (p<0.05) with, however,             glutathione level was the most toxic           inhibits Na -dependent glutamate
only 2 patients outside the 95%              agent when added with β-ODAP in a              uptake,           glutamate-dependent
confidence limits. Six patients (27%)        condition of SAA deprivation. N-               cystine uptake and complex-I of the
had abnormal VEPs despite normal             acetylcysteine was the only effective          mitochondrial electron transfer chain
                                                                                                                                   2+
visual acuity. These abnormalities           compound to protect from β-ODAP                and it alters mitochondrial Ca
were symmetric and no relation               toxicity among several antioxidants            handling. These effects take place in
could be found between the duration          suggesting that glutathione level              neurons as well as in astrocytes and
or the severity of the disease and           was more critical in these cells. Our          result in the accumulation of
the VEP perturbation.                        ongoing project to screen the                  glutamate into the extracellular
CONCLUSION: The main features                extracts of natural products or fungal         space, the generation of free
of these abnormalities are delayed           culture to save the neurons has                radicals     and     a    compromised
P100 latency        and     decreased        picked up nearly 20 candidates. In             defence against free radicals. The
amplitude. These findings indicate           this project, the toxicities of β-ODAP         latter probably play an important role
involvement of visual pathways and           as well as of transfected gene G93A            in the pathogenesis as the grass
seem to suggest the presence of              from ALS patients (another complex             pea that triggers this disease is
axonal loss in the prechiasmal visual        motor neuron disease) were the                 deficient     for    methionine     and
pathways in konzo. This study                targets. If some effective agents              cysteine,      two     precursors      of
provides      evidence     that    the       were found to protect against                  glutathione that confers antioxidant
neurodamage in konzo extends to              β-ODAP toxicity, they would be                 protection.
the visual pathways.                         worth analysing as powerful drugs to           RESULTS: We studied neurotoxicity
                                             cure     motor      neuron     diseases        by exposing primary rat spinal motor
KEYWORDS: konzo, upper motor                 including neurolathyrism and ALS.              neurons co-cultured with astrocytes
neuron, visual evoked potentials.            CONCLUSION: β-ODAP had a                       to β-ODAP or glutamate over 24 h.
                                             deleterious effect on the redox                β-ODAP and glutamate triggered
                                             status of neurons through the                  significant cell death but β-ODAP
    MECHANISM OF                             decrease         of        mitochondrial       was more potent when applied at
                                             glutathione.                                   the same concentration. Inclusion of
OXIDATIVE STRESS BY L-β-                                                                    methionine or cysteine in the
    ODAP TO MOTOR                            KEYWORDS:        motor      neuron,            treatment medium protected the
NEURONS IN RELATION TO                       NSC34, glutathione, antioxidants.              neurons       against     cell    death.
 NEUROLATHYRISM ROLE                                                                        Gliotoxicity was evaluated in a
                                                                                            simple model system of C6 glioma
    OF METHIONINE                                                                           cells after applying β-ODAP or
      DEFICIENCY                                    NEURO- AND
                                                                                            glutamate for 24 h and quantifying
                                                GLIOTOXICITY OF THE                         cell survival/death. Inclusion of
                   1               1
     N. Yoshino , A. Minoura , F.             EXCITATORY AMINO ACID                         cysteine or ascorbic acid in the
     Ikegami2, K. Watanabe1, T.                BETA-ODAP INVOLVES                           medium decreased the toxicity of β-
    Kusama1, K. Kusama-Eguchi1                                                              ODAP and glutamate.
                                              IMPAIRED FREE RADICAL
                                                                                            CONCLUSIONS:             Our     results
1 College of Pharmacy, Nihon University,             DEFENCE                                suggest that oxidative stress is
Funabashi, Chiba 274-8555 (Japan)
2 Chiba University, Kashiwa, Chiba (Japan)                         1                1       involved in β-ODAP neuro- and
                                             M. Van Moorhem , E. Decrock , M.               gliotoxicity. Future work will be
                                                     1           1           1
OBJECTIVES: To clarify whether               De Bock , N. Wang , E. De Vuyst ,              directed       to     determine      the
oxidative stress has a chief role in         G. Callewaert3, L. Van Den Bosch2,
                                                             4            1                 contribution      of    astrocytes     in
the pathogenesis of neurolathyrism.              F. Lambein , L. Leybaert
                                                                                            neurotoxicity, i.e. whether gliotoxic
BACKGROUND:           Neurolathyrism                                                        effects increase the sensitivity of the
                                             1 Department of Basic Medical Sciences,
has been found at higher incidence           Ghent University, Ghent (Belgium)              neurons for β-ODAP and glutamate.
in periods of famine or other food           2 Department of Neurosciences, University of   Evidence from other diseases like
insufficient episodes when other             Leuven, Leuven (Belgium)                       ALS suggests that this is indeed the
                                             3 Subfaculty of Medicine Campus Kortrijk,
food or total food supply is extremely       University of Leuven, Kortrijk (Belgium)       case.
limited. The amino acid composition          4 Institute of Plant Biotechnology for
of Lathyrus sativus is deficient in          Developing Countries (IPBO), Ghent             KEYWORDS:                    β-ODAP,
methionine and cysteine (sulfur-             University, Ghent (Belgium)
                                                                                            neurotoxicity, gliotoxicity, oxidative
containing amino acids; SAA), which                                                         stress.
are the precursors of glutathione.
                                                                                                                                 16
                                                 experiment conducted at Debre Zeit             large variation in CN potential and
          Breeding and                           and Sheno, Ethiopia showed that                can be classified as low (< 50ug/g),
                                                 early sowing will greatly reduce (up           medium (50 – 100ug/g) and high CN
        biotechnological                         to 28%) β-ODAP content of the                  (> 100ug CN equ/g) varieties.The
       approach for crop                         seed. An application of zinc sulfates          difference in CN potential among
          improvement                            at the rate of 15 to 20kg/ha reduced           tubers of different varieties is not
                                                 high β-ODAP content of the seed to             reflected in the CN potential of
                                                 safe level (<0.2%). Early planting of          leaves, stem or root cortex.
                                                 grass pea coupled with an                      Translocation of linamarin from
      INTEGRATED                                 application of 20 kg/ha of zinc                leaves also influences the tuber
 MANAGEMENT OF GRASS                             sulfate significantly reduced (up to           CNgl content. However, the extent
 PEA TO REDUCE RISK OF                           42.5%) β-ODAP content of the                   to which this contributes to the tuber
       LATHYRISM                                 seeds. Therefore, the use of low β-            CNgl level is not clear. Increased
                                                 ODAP varieties coupled with an                 leaf senescence/leaf fall, especially
                 G. Bejiga                       application of zinc sulfate and early          during drought, enhances CNgl
                                                 sowing reduces the β-ODAP content              content in the tubers. Molecular
Biodiversity and Integrated Gene Management      of the seed and can minimise the               techniques for reducing tuber CNgl
Program                                          risk of Lathyrism disease. Results of          have focused on development of
International Center for Agricultural Research
in the Dry Areas (Syria)
                                                 grass pea seed priming with zinc               transgenic plants with reduced
                                                 sulfate solution grown at ICARDA in            expression of cyt P 450 in leaves, or
OBJECTIVE: To reduce risk of                     2009, the effect of soaking and                increased          expression        of
lathyrism       through        integrated        modifying cooking methods are                  hydroxynitrilelyase in the tuber.
management          of     grass      pea        recommended.                                   Production of acyanogenic cassava
production.                                                                                     is a long term process. For
BACKGROUND:              Grass        pea        KEYWORDS: grass pea, β-ODAP,                   immediate solution, CNgl content
(Lathyrus sativus) has been grown                lathyrism, sowing date, zinc sulfate.          can be reduced using several
for seed and fodder production in                                                               processing methods. Depending on
many countries. It is tolerant to                                                               the nature of the process, they are
drought,      water     logging,     cool             ELIMINATION OF                            either hydrolysed, forming ACN and
conditions and moderate alkalinity. It                                                          free CN which are lost on heating, or
thrives well on poor marginal lands
                                                     ANTINUTRITIONAL                            leached into the cooking medium.
and gives relatively better yield                  FACTORS FOR QUALITY                          Traditional methods used for
without much management and                          IMPROVEMENT OF                             processing include boiling, drying,
inputs. The area of grass pea                            CASSAVA                                parboiling and drying, baking,
production has been increasing over                                                             steaming, frying and preparation of
years in countries like Ethiopia due                 B. Nambisan, S. Sundaresan                 flour. These processes result in CN
to frequent occurrence of drought                                                               losses ranging from 25 – 98%. The
and its ability to survive. It is also an        Division of Crop Utilization, Central Tuber    cyanogen level in the final product is
important pulse crop in Bangladesh,              Crops Research Institute, Sreekariyam,         influenced both by the tuber CNgl
                                                 Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, - 695017 (India)   and the method of processing. In
India and Nepal. However, it
contains a neurotoxin, 3-(N-oxalyl)-                                                            order to obtain products with
                                                 OBJECTIVES:          Identification   of
L-2,3-diaminopropionic               acid        factors         influencing         the        minimum safe level, it would be
(β-ODAP)        or     β-oxalylamino-L-                                                         necessary       to    use     different
                                                 cyanoglucoside content in cassava
alanine     (BOAA)        that    causes                                                        processing methods for low and high
                                                 and elimination of toxicity by
lathyrism disease (an irreversible                                                              CNgl varieties. The development of
                                                 processing.
paralysis of the lower part of the                                                              new     methods       of   processing
                                                 BACKGROUND:              Toxicity    of
legs). Breeding efforts have been                                                               especially for cassava containing
                                                 cassava arises due to the presence
made to develop varieties with zero                                                             more than 250ug CN equ/g remains
                                                 of the cyanoglucosides linamarin
or low β-ODAP content to reduce                                                                 a challenging problem.
                                                 and      lotaustralin     which     are
the risk of this disease. Less                   hydrolysed by an endogenous
emphasis has been given to genetic                                                              KEYWORDS         :        cassava,
                                                 enzyme           linamarase           to
and / or management practices that                                                              cyanoglucosides          reduction,
                                                 acetonecyanohydrin (ACN) and
can reduce β-ODAP content.                                                                      minimum safe level.
                                                 cyanide (CN) which are toxic.
RESULTS: Efforts have been made                  Elimination         /reduction        of
to identify varieties with zero or low           cyanoglucoside        level    to   the
β-ODAP content, but, there is no                 minimum is necessary in order to
report of grass pea varieties with               make cassava safe for consumption.
zero β-ODAP content. Many lines                  Major research efforts in this
have as high as 0.8% β-ODAP while                direction have focused on i)
many lines with less than 0.1% have              development         of      acyanogenic
been identified. Several ICARDA                  cassava varieties by breeding, ii)
lines like SEL-190, SEL-288, SEL-                controlling its metabolism and iii)
289, SEL-290, SEL-299, SEL-387,                  processing to remove cyanogens.
SEL-390, SEL-449, SEL-111 and                    RESULTS and CONCLUSION: The
SEL-222 have less than 0.1% β-                   cyanoglucoside (CNgl) content in
ODAP content. Of these SEL-222                   cassava is genetically controlled and
(Wasie) was released for production              tubers of different varieties show
in Ethiopia. A sowing date
                                                                                                                                      17
      THE FACTORS                                    degradation,     and   that    this                THE POTENTIAL OF
  INFLUENCING β-ODAP                                 interference may be related to the                BIOTECHNOLOGY IN
                                                     levels of reactive oxygen species
   CONTENT AND THEIR                                 (ROS) in tissues.                                 ETHIOPIA: PRESENT
POSSIBLE MECHANISMS IN                                                                                   SITUATION AND
        GRASS PEA                                    KEYWORDS: biotic and abiotic                    EXPECTED DEVELOPMENT
    (Lathyrus sativus L.)                            stress, β-ODAP levels, development
                                                     phase and tissue type, nutrient,                               K. G. Dereje
C.J. Jiao, Y.C. Xiong, C.Li, L.M. Ke,                Lathyrus sativus L.
                                                                                                     Era Agrilink PLC, P. O. Box 22927, Addis
J.L. Jiang, X.Y. Wang, F.M. Li, Z.X.                                                                 Ababa (Ethiopia)
           Li, C.Y. Wang*
                                                      EXPLORING THE AFRICAN                          BACKGROUND: Ethiopia owns
Key Laboratory of Arid Agroecology under the                                                         immense genetic wealth of flora and
Ministry of Education / Institute of Cell Biology,       CASSAVA (Manihot
School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University,              esculenta Crantz)                          fauna.      Vavilov,    the     Russian
Lanzhou (China)                                                                                      geneticist, in his report in 1951,
                                                         GERMPLASM FOR                               designated Ethiopia as one of the
OBJECTIVES: To review the factors                     SOMATIC EMBRYOGENIC                            eight crop diversity centers of the
affecting β-ODAP levels and their                          COMPETENCE                                world. The country has contributed
possible mechanisms and explore                                                                      much for crop improvement globally.
the possibility of decreasing β-ODAP                                 1            1
                                                     D. Ndofunsu , L. Ndiku , K. Kejuni ,
                                                                                               1
                                                                                                     Some of the examples include Ryd2
levels in grass pea (Lathyrus sativus                        1            1         2
                                                     B. Otono , K. Nakweti , C. Mba , J.             and Ryd3 genes for BYDV
L.).                                                            Jamckowicz  2
                                                                                                     resistance, mlo-11 and related
BACKGROUND: β-N-oxalyl-L-α,β-                                                                        genes       for    powdery       mildew
diaminopropionic acid (β-ODAP), a                    1 Commissariat Général à l’ Energie Atomique.   resistance, high lysine containing
toxin causing lathyrism in humans,                   CGEA/CREN-K BP. 868 Kin XI Kinshasa             zera-zera       sorghum        varieties,
varies highly even in the same                       (République Démocratique du Congo)
                                                     2 Plant Breeding Unit, FAO/IAEA,                drought tolerant traits in sorghum
variety depending on different                       Biotechnology and Agricultural Laboratory.      and grass pea. Due to incapacity in
growing conditions. It is, therefore,                Vienna. BP. 24440 (Austria)                     biotechnology research, however,
necessary to study the factors                                                                       the potential of the country has not
affecting its accumulation and their                 BACKGROUND: A method for the
                                                                                                     been fully explored.
possible mechanisms for the safe                     induction of somatic embryogenesis
                                                                                                     RESULTS: The Horn Biotechnology
consumption of grass pea seeds.                      in five Cassava genotypes from
                                                                                                     Forum’s survey in 2006 to assess
RESULTS: 1) The levels of β-ODAP                     African countries is described. The
                                                                                                     the national biotechnology capacity
reached peaks at seedling and at                     explants used were leaf lobes
                                                                                                     of Ethiopia revealed that 7
seed ripening stage, although low                    isolated from in vitro grown plants.
                                                                                                     institutions with a total of 24
levels of β-ODAP were found at                       RESULTS: Somatic embryogenesis
                                                                                                     branches were involved in or under
other developmental stages; 2) β-                    was achieved in high frequencies by             preparation         to       commence
ODAP was found in all tissues, but                   the addition in the induction medium
                                                                                                     biotechnological activities. Out of
the young leaves and mature seeds                    of the auxins picloram and 2,4
                                                                                                     these institutes/ centers, 10 have got
contained the highest level of β-                    dichlorophenoxyacetic acid over a
                                                                                                     modest to well-equipped molecular
ODAP;       3)    Under     hydroponic               wide range of concentrations in the
                                                                                                     labs and the rest only had or
conditions,       β-ODAP        sharply              dark. Pro-embryos obtained from in              planned tissue culture labs. These
increased in ripening seeds when                     vitro tissue culture of the African
                                                                                                     institutes hosted 105 scientists with
                         2+
over-supplied with Fe or reduced                     cassava genotypes 98/2101,TMEI,
   2+          -       2+              +
                                                                                                     different levels of acquaintance in
Zn ,      NO3 ,     Mg       and     K               Boma, Mpelo nlongi and 130572
                                                                                                     biotechnology, and a total of 65
concentrations. But in shoots of the                 were used to determine the effect of
                                                                                                     projects      were     undertaken      in
young seedlings, β-ODAP obviously                    the concentration of the auxins.
                                                                                                     immunology, diagnostics, vaccine
increased with deficiency of N, P,                   CONCLUSIONS: The method could
                                                                                                     development,              epidemiology,
Ca, B, Zn or Mo. Field studies                       be used not only for the mass
                                                                                                     molecular markers, plant tissue
showed that β-ODAP levels in seeds                   production of plants of the African
                                                                                                     culture, bio-fertilizer and embryo
were correlated positively with P,                   cassava genotypes, but also to
                                                                                                     transfer. However, almost all
and negatively with Zn, N, Ca, K or                  generate explants (green cotyledons
                                                                                                     advanced studies were conducted in
Mg in soil; 4) β-ODAP content in                     of somatic embryos) as themselves
                                                                                                     collaboration         with       foreign
seedlings obviously reduced when                     excellent    targets     for  induced           laboratories. In agriculture, most
infected by Rhizobium; 5) Drought                    mutation.
                                                                                                     activities across the country were in
stress increased the levels of β-                                                                    tissue culture. With the aim of
ODAP in the seeds. In soil, higher                   KEYWORDS : Manihot esculenta,
                                                                                                     commencing higher level plant,
salinity reduced β-ODAP level of                     cassava, somatic embryogenesis,
                                                                                                     animal      and    microbial     biotech
seed, while the presence of                          picloram, 2.4-D.                                research, the Ethiopian Institute of
cadmium or aluminium increased β-                                                                    Agricultural Research has built a
ODAP level of seeds.                                                                                 laboratory complex at Holetta
CONCLUSION: The factors possibly                                                                     Agricultural     Research       Center.
influencing β-ODAP level include                                                                     However, this laboratory has not yet
development phase, tissue type,                                                                      been functional due to logistic and
nutrition, biotic and abiotic stress. It                                                             technical reasons.
is speculated that most of the factors                                                               CONCLUSION: It is recommended
influence β-ODAP levels possibly by                                                                  that      long     term      manpower
interfering with its biosynthesis or
                                                                                                                                                18
development plan, strong inter- and             were used. Cotyledonary nodes                  a virus that can be manipulated by
intra-institutional         linkage/            from in vitro grown Lathyrus sativus           insertion of heterologous cDNA
networking, flexible procurement                seedlings were infiltrated with                fragments. Upon inoculation with the
procedure for consumables, fast                 Agrobacterium suspension for 20                virus carrying a gene fragment from
custom release service, competitive             minutes      under    vacuum       and         the host plant, both the virus and
incentive system, and constant                  aseptically cultured on MS medium              host mRNA with sequence identity
electric power supply should be                 containing two levels of BAP 1mg/l             to the inserted fragment are
practiced. Moreover, researchers                or 2mg/l. The bacterial strain used            degraded. Often the degradation of
should be encouraged to develop                 was C58C1RifR carrying the binary              host mRNA is sufficiently efficient to
joint projects (of any scale) with              plasmid pATAG-arc5-M1,2 coding                 induce a clear phenotype in the
scientists worldwide.                           for extra methionine.                          plant. This response is known as
                                                Effective callus development was               virus induced gene silencing (VIGS).
KEYWORDS: BYDV, Ryd2, Ryd3,                     obtained in the range 30 % to 55 %             RESULTS: The RNA virus Pea early
mlo-11, Zera-zera sorghum.                      for zero-passage and a three                   browning virus (PEBV) consists of
                                                passage treatment respectively. In             two RNA molecules RNA1 and
                                                agreement with other similar work in           RNA2. Infectious cDNA clones have
 PRELIMINARY ATTEMPTS                           the literature apical or axillary buds         been constructed, which allow
                                                produced more compact green                    insertion of heterologous cDNA
IN MOLECULAR BREEDING                           tissues than explants from apical              fragments into the cDNA of RNA2.
OF ETHIOPIAN GRASS PEA                          segments. In the transformation                The PEBV based virus vector has
    (Lathyrus sativus L.):                      experiments, from each genotype                been used extensively as a tool to
       PRODUCTIVE                               after three weeks of co-cultivation on         determine gene function in pea.
                                                MS-medium six randomly selected                Recently we found that PEBV also
   REGENERATION AND                             explants with adventitious shoots              infects     Lathyrus     sativus    and
         GENETIC                                were used for GUS test. Our                    observed that PEBV can induce
    TRANSFORMATION                              reporter system revealed that two              efficient silencing of a test gene.
                                                grass pea genotypes (Wollo and                 CONCLUSION: We expect that
              1           2             3
   D. Girma , A. Fikre , N. Terryn ,            Gonder) have shown transient GUS               PEBV can be used to determine the
                3             3
       Y.H. Kuo , F. Lambein                    expression, indicating the potential           function of candidate genes in L.
                                                for genetic transformation.                    sativus and support the efforts
1 Debre Brehan Agricultural Research Center,    CONCLUSION:                    Genetic         towards making L. sativus a safe
P.O.Box 112, Debre Brehan (Ethiopia)
2 Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Center,
                                                transformation of grass pea via                crop.
P.O. Box 32, Debre Zeit (Ethiopia)              Agrobacterium technology should be
3 Institute of Plant Biotechnology for          further investigated as a way to               KEYWORDS: Lathyrus sativus,
Developing Countries (IPBO), Ghent University   improve the sulfur amino acid                  gene function, virus vector.
(Belgium)
                                                content for safer consumption.
OBJECTIVES:               Productive
regeneration of grass pea (Lathyrus             KEYWORDS:           Grass      pea,            BREEDING STRATEGIES IN
sativus L.) with an attempt for                 regeneration,                genetic
                                                transformation, Agrobacterium.                   NIGERIA TO IMPROVE
Agrobacterium-mediated        genetic
transformation.                                                                                   CASSAVA AGAINST
BACKGROUND: Grass pea is an                                                                         CYANOGENIC
ancient crop adapted to marginal                  VIRUS INDUCED GENE                                GLUCOSIDES
soils and producing protein rich                 SILENCING IN LATHYRUS
seeds during droughts and even                                                                     E. H. Kwon-Ndung, A. Takyun
surviving floods. When grass pea is                     SATIVUS
used as the sole staple during                                                                 Plant Science and Biotechnology Unit, Dept. of
extended periods, the irreversible               I. E. Johansen1, G. D.Constantin1,            Biological Sciences, Nasarawa State
                                                                       2                       University, Keffi PMB 1022 Keffi. Nasarawa
crippling lathyrism can occur.                              O. S. Lund
                                                                                               State (Nigeria)
Reduction of a neuroactive amino
                                                1 Department of Genetics and Biotechnology,
acid in the seeds and increasing                Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus       OBJECTIVES:        Propagation    of
essential sulfur amino acids by                 University, Frederiksberg (Denmark)            cassava clones with very low
breeding or genetic transformation              2 Danish Seed Health Centre, Faculty of Life   cyanogenic glucosides.
                                                Sciences, University of Copenhagen,
may improve the nutritional quality of          Frederiksberg (Denmark)
                                                                                               BACKGROUND: The tuberous roots
grass pea.                                                                                     of cassava are a source of more
RESULTS: We report a productive                 OBJECTIVES: To determine the                   than half the calories consumed by
regeneration and an Agrobacterium-              function of candidate genes in                 over 200 million people in sub-
mediated        transient     genetic           Lathyrus sativus.                              Saharan Africa. The leaves are also
transformation of several Ethiopian             BACKGROUND: Plant defence                      often used as a vegetable and are a
grass      pea     genotypes.     For           against virus infection includes an            very reliable source of protein,
regeneration, a popular Ethiopian               RNAi based sequence specific                   vitamins        and        minerals.
local cultivar from Debre Zeit area             degradation of virus RNA. The                  Nevertheless,     the    cyanogenic
(DZ-local) was used. Buds without               defence reaction is triggered by               potential of cassava has often been
scale and shoot tips were used as               double stranded RNA and can be                 cited as a contributory factor of
source for callus generation. For               exploited to determine the function            health problems, most especially in
genetic transformation three grass              of candidate genes. This requires              areas where cassava roots or leaves
pea genotypes obtained from Wollo,              construction of an infectious clone of         are    not    properly   processed.
Gondar, and Bahir Dar, Ethiopia                                                                Documented reports in Nigeria have
                                                                                                                                         19
shown records of mortality arising as               cultivated for millennia. Despite this         for future improvement of grass pea
a result of consumption of cassava                  and the existence of the traditional           as an ideal pulse crop with high yield
food products, commonly among the                   Serbian name for grass pea,                    and low seed neurotoxin (ODAP)
resource poor households. There is                  sastrica, and pan-Slavic name for all          content. Aneuploids including a
an urgent need to provide farmers                   vetchlings, grahor, today they are             series of trisomics, tetrasomics and
with improved varieties that have                   almost forgotten crops. As a part of           double trisomics, along with different
low cyanogenic potential.                           its    long-term     programme       of        structural chromosomal aberrations
RESULTS and CONCLUSIONS: In                         promoting legumes in the Serbian               and different true breeding diploid
a series of studies, at the Plant                   agriculture, the joint action of the           mutant lines showing contrasting
Science and Biotechnology program                   Institute of Field and Vegetable               phenotypic       modifications,       are
in the Department of Biological                     Crops and the Faculty of Agriculture           excellent tools to study genetic
Sciences between 2006 and 2008                      is aimed at re-introducing grass pea           control and linkage mapping of
cropping         seasons,      different            and       other      vetchlings      as        different markers. Therefore I have
accessions or strains of cassava                    multifunctional crops.                         been trying to develop these stocks
collected from different farmers in                 RESULTS and CONCLUSIONS:                       in grass pea.
selected cassava growing areas in                   Within the legume collection in the            RESULTS: Following treatment of
central Nigeria were evaluated in the               Institute of Field and Vegetable               seeds of seven grass pea varieties
field     for    their   morphological              Crops, a small Lathyrus collection             with different doses of EMS and
characters and in the laboratory for                has been established in 2002. In               gamma rays 87 variant plants were
their cyanogenic properties. The                    2009, it contained about 100                   isolated in M2 generation. Among
present results have delineated the                 accessions of 16 species, with grass           these plants, 58 were diploids
traits in different accessions for both             pea as the most numerous one. The              (2n=2x=14) which bred true and
field and laboratory, which can be                  majority of grass pea accessions in            showed          no         chromosomal
employed in conventional breeding                   the Novi Sad collection are                    abnormalities while the rest of the
objectives. However, in view of the                 advanced cultivars, mainly from                plants exhibited either numerical or
constraints of conventional breeding                Poland. Today, the most important              structural                  chromosomal
of cassava due to its long breeding                 task is to enrich the collection not           rearrangements. In the last several
cycle,        heterozygousity,      and             only with wild populations of diverse          years, a complete set of seven
difficulties in producing seed, this                vetchlings, such as groundnut                  different primary trisomics (2n+1,
study envisages that the use of                     peavine (L. tuberosus L.) or yellow            2n=15), several tetrasomics (2n+2,
marker assisted selection will be                   vetchling (L. aphaca L.), but with             2n=16)       and    double      trisomics
used in influencing accelerated                     local landraces of grass pea, since            (2n+1+1=16) were cytogenetically
introgression of traits from these                  they still can be found in certain             characterized. In addition, four semi-
collections so as to produce clones                 regions of both Serbia and Srpska,             sterile      mutant       lines      were
without any trace of cyanogenic                     where they are used for both human             cytologically        analysed          as
glucosides and safe for food.                       consumption        and        medicinal        translocation heterozygotes. Using
                                                    purposes. The first Serbian breeding           these primary trisomics, several
KEYWORDS: cassava, cyanogenic                       programme in Novi Sad produced                 genes including df2, df3 (dwarfism),
glucosides, breeding, clones, marker                two lines in the process of                    wgn       (winged     modification     of
assisted selection.                                 registration in Serbia, with forage dry        internode), lfc (leaflet colour) and cbl
                                                                                     -1
                                                    matter yields of between 8 t ha and            (seed coat colour) were mapped on
                                                           -1
                                                    9 t ha and grain yields of up to 5 t           extra chromosome of different
                                                        -1
    RE-INTRODUCTION OF                              ha .                                           trisomics and linkage association
     GRASS PEA (Lathyrus                                                                           between different isozymes and
                                                    KEYWORDS: grass pea, genetic                   morphological trait loci on different
      sativus) IN SERBIA                            resources, breeding, grain yield,              linkage groups are now being
           1                  1               2     forage dry matter yield.                       analysed. Preliminary investigations
A. Mikić , V. Mihailović , B. Ćupina ,
            2          3          1                                                                also revealed significant variation of
   ð. Krstić , B. ðurić , M. Vasić
                                                                                                   seed ODAP content in three primary
1 Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops, Novi      DIFFERENT CYTOGENETIC                          trisomics and three respective
Sad (Serbia)                                          TESTER STOCKS AND                            tetrasomic lines suggesting possible
2 Faculty of Agriculture, University of Novi Sad,                                                  involvement of number of genes on
Novi Sad (Serbia)                                     LINKAGE MAPPING IN
                                                                                                   different chromosomes in governing
3 Faculty of Agriculture, University of Banja          GRASS PEA (Lathyrus                         this quantitative trait.
Luka, Banja Luka (Republic of Srpska, Bosnia
and Herzegovina)                                           sativus L.)                             CONCLUSION: Different aneuploids
                                                                                                   and translocation heterozygotes as
OBJECTIVES:                    Recent                          Dibyendu Talukdar                   cytological tester sets and diploid
achievements in grass pea research                                                                 mutant lines as genetic marker
in Serbia.                                          Department of Botany, University of Kalyani,   stocks are being developed and
BACKGROUND:           Vetchlings    or              Kalyani, West Bengal (India)
                                                                                                   have the potential in mapping of
chickling vetches (Lathyrus spp.) are                                                              different DNA-based markers along
                                                    OBJECTIVES: Development           of
widely distributed in both Serbia and                                                              with isozyme and morphological
                                                    different cytological and genetic
Srpska, and represent a valuable                                                                   traits in grass pea.
                                                    stocks and their use in linkage
component of local floras all over the
                                                    mapping in Lathyrus sativus L.
Balkan Peninsula. Archaeological                                                                    KEYWORDS: cytogenetic stocks,
                                                    BACKGROUND: A comprehensive
evidence witnesses that grass pea                   genetic linkage map comprising of                  linkage map, grass pea.
(L. sativus L.) and flat-podded                     different morphological, biochemical
vetchling (L. cicera L.) have been
                                                    and molecular markers is necessary
                                                                                                                                        20
                                                 KEYWORDS: Vicia sativa, nitrile-                trait will be started using the
      TOWARDS AN                                 neurotoxin, new crop development,               accession with the lowest ODAP
    AUSTRALIAN, ZERO                             single-seed IR selection, plant                 content. Interesting information was
                                                 breeding.                                       also gathered using AFLP molecular
   NEURO-TOXIN LINE OF                                                                           markers, since a wide range of
   COMMON VETCH Vicia                                                                            genetic variation supported the
        sativa L.                                AGRONOMIC, QUALITATIVE                          possibility of starting a mapping
                                                                                                 project aimed at the identification of
   M. Tate, T. L. D. Chowdhury, D.
                                                  (ODAP) AND MOLECULAR                           genes involved in the ODAP
              Enneking                           VARIABILITY IN GRASSPEA                         biochemical pathway.
                                                   POPULATIONS OF THE
School of Agriculture, Food & Wine, University
                                                     MARCHE REGION                               KEYWORDS:         ODAP,      AFLP
of Adelaide, Waite Agricultural Research                                                         markers, grass pea breeding.
Institute, Waite Rd. Glen Osmond , 5064 South        (CENTRAL ITALY).
Australia (Australia)
                                                      S. Tavoletti, L. Iommarini, L.
OBJECTIVE: Non-toxic seeds of                                                                      TRIGGERING TIME OF
                                                                Mogliani
common vetch (Vicia sativa L.).
BACKGROUND: In 1939 a paper                                                                       NON-HYDRAULIC ROOT-
                                                 Dipartimento di Scienze Alimentari, Agro-
was published (Sha, S.R.A: A note                Ingegneristiche, Fisiche, Economico-Agrarie e          SOURCED
on some cases of lathyrism in a                  del Territorio (S.A.I.F.E.T), Università         SIGNAL ACCOUNTS FOR
Punjab village. Indian Med. Gaz. 74:             Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona (Italy)
                                                                                                     THE INTENSITY OF
385-388) in which a form of
paralysis     was      noted,     which
                                                 OBJECTIVES: Characterisation of                  ABSCISIC ACID SIGNAL
                                                 grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.)                 AND THE GENERATION OF
resembled the lathyrism induced by
                                                 accessions collected in the Marche
the consumption of Lathyrus                      Region (Central Italy) to start a
                                                                                                   TOXIN ODAP IN GRASS
sativus. Charlotte Ressler identified            breeding       program        for     the            PEA SEEDLINGS
the neurotoxic principle in vetch:
                                                 valorization of this under-utilized                                    *
(Ressler, C., Giza, Y.H., Nigam,                                                                 Y.C. Xiong, F.M. Li , C.J. Jiao, C.Y.
                                                 crop.
S.N. (1969) “Toxic principle in                                                                    Wang, H.Y. Kong, P.F. Li, Y.F.
                                                 BACKGROUND: Grass pea is an
vetch. Isolation and identification of                                                                Wang, Z.X. Li, X.W. Fan
                                                 interesting crop to be included in
γ-L-Glutamyl-β-Cyano-L-Alanine
                                                 rational crop rotations in inner areas
from common vetch seeds”. J. Am.                                                                 MOE Key Laboratory of Arid and Grassland
                                                 of the Marche Region, since it is               Ecology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000
Chem. Soc. 91, 2758-2765). In
                                                 characterised by a wide adaptation              (P. R. China)
1992 and 1999, Nature papers from
                                                 to       different       environmental
this laboratory reported the export                                                              OBJECTIVES: Roles of exogenous
                                                 conditions.     However,        breeding
of a common vetch cultivar with                                                                  Eu
                                                                                                     3+
                                                                                                           application in regulating
                                                 efforts are needed to improve its
orange cotyledons (cv. Blanche                   agronomic performance and to lower              drought adaptation of grass pea
fleur) for human consumption in                                                                  seedlings.
                                                 as much as possible ODAP seed
third world markets. To protect its                                                              BACKGROUND: Previous work
                                                 content. Since year 2000, a
lentil industry, Australia legislated in                                                         showed that addition of exogenous
                                                 germplasm collection and evaluation
1999, to prescribe both vetch and                                                                    3+
                                                                                                 Eu significantly affected drought
                                                 program has been carried out.
lentils.     Prescription       ensures          Accessions were evaluated by field              tolerance and stomatal sensitivity in
minimisation        of       vetch/lentil                                                        grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.)
                                                 trials    for    morphological       and
substitution, by inspection and                                                                  seedlings, both of which were
                                                 agronomic traits and for seed ODAP
obligatory phytosanitary certificates,                                                           regulated by the start and closure of
                                                 content. Moreover, AFLP molecular
with      the     correct      botanical                                                         non-hydraulic root-sourced signal
                                                 markers were applied to investigate
descriptions.      Later      Australian                                                         (nHRS). To further understand the
                                                 the level of genetic variation
Government            (Commonwealth                                                              triggering mechanism of nHRS and
                                                 characterising      the      populations
Gazette, 18th June, 2003) legislation                                                            its eco-physiological effect, the
                                                 included in the collection. In year
absolutely prohibits the export of                                                               dynamics of plasma membrane H -
                                                                                                                                        +
                                                 2008 a breeding plan has been
split vetch from Australia, making it                                                                                +
                                                                                                 ATPase (PM H -ATPase) in root
                                                 started     using    two      household
a criminal offence with a maximum                                                                system, and abscisic acid (ABA) and
                                                 populations showing the lowest
penalty of five years imprisonment.                                                              β-N-oxalyl–L-α,β-diaminopropionic
                                                 average ODAP content and the
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION:                          highest agronomic performance,                  acid (ODAP, a toxic amino acid
The % γ-L-Glutamyl-β-Cyano-L-                                                                    induced by drought stress) in leaves
                                                 respectively.
Alanine content in a white-seeded                                                                were       simultaneously     quantified
                                                 RESULTS and CONCLUSIONS:
common vetch (Jericho White =                                                                    along with a soil drying gradient from
                                                 Significant      variability      among
1.88%) was reduced by two                                                                        -0.21 to -6.94 MPa in Lathyrus
                                                 population      was     detected       for
hybridizations via a white-seeded                agronomic traits. In particular,                sativus seedlings grown in soil with
PBR protected line (Love 2 = 0.9%).                                                                     3+
                                                                                                 (+Eu treated) and without (-Eu
                                                                                                                                        3+
                                                 household populations, collected in
Recurrent selection has provided                                                                                       3+
                                                                                                 treated) added Eu solution. At the
                                                 local farms, showed a higher seed
white- and dark-seeded lines with                                                                soil water potentials (Ψsoil) of -0.75
                                                 production         compared         with
toxin < 0.4%. Cyano-alanine toxin                                                                and -1.75 MPa respectively, the
                                                 unadapted accessions. Concerning
(mg) per seed is a more reliable                                                                 nHRS was successively triggered
                                                 ODAP content, a range of variation
indicator of progress than the                   between 0.26% and 0.53% was                     and ceased in -Eu
                                                                                                                            3+
                                                                                                                                 treated
environmentally-sensitive variation              detected. Based on these results, a             seedlings, while addition of Eu
                                                                                                                                        3+
of % toxin values.                                                                               significantly altered these two Ψsoil to
                                                 within population analysis for this

                                                                                                                                         21
-0.45 and -2.29 MPa respectively, a      irreversible neurodegenerations, that    3. It is crucial to understand the
wider threshold range.                   need to be addressed. The poorest           genetics of the unique traits
RESULTS: This result was evidently       populations of subsistence farmers          (drought      tolerance,     disease
supported by the dynamics of PM          mostly depend on these crops for            resistance, and high nitrogen
  +
H -ATPase       activity    and  ABA     their food and nutritional security in      fixation in the case of grass pea)
                                    3+
biosynthesis. Addition of Eu             years of environmental extremities          of these life-saving crops for
                                    +
induced earlier increase of PM H -       and are most at risk of these               harvesting       the     benefit    of
ATPase activity in roots and ABA         incurable but preventable paralysis         molecular tools. For the genetic
content in leaves, coupled with          of the lower limbs. A two-day               improvement of these crops,
ODAP production in leaves. With          “International Workshop on Toxico-          research efforts should be
                                    +
prolonged drought stress, PM H -         Nutritional Neurodegenerations –            directed         towards        better
ATPase activity and ABA content          Konzo      and      Lathyrism”    was       nutritional quality, higher yield
were observed to be generally            organized at Ghent University,              and resistance to key diseases,
                 3+
higher in +Eu treated seedlings          Belgium on 21 and 22 September              drought and high temperature
than in -Eu3+ treated seedlings,         2009 in which 55 scientists from five       and also better nitrogen fixing
however, under the same condition,       continents     presented     18   oral      ability or fertilizing. This requires
the event of ODAP accumulation           presentations and 27 posters,               creating and strengthening of
was reversed. The accumulation of        highlighting various aspects of these       plant breeding and molecular
ODAP might be up-regulated by            two important crops and their health        research       at     national    and
early onset of root-sourced signal,      problems       related     to    over-      international levels involved in
and the latter might be correlated       consumption. During the panel and           grass      pea       and     cassava
with earlier activation of PM H+-        round-table       discussions,     the      improvement research programs.
ATPase. This result can be               following recommendations were              These traits are of global
explained by an “X” model                made:                                       importance and can also benefit
hypothesis of ABA signal intensity                                                   other crops.
(decrease ratio of Gs / increase ratio
of ABA content). Our study provides      1. There is an urgent need to            4. Research on better agronomic
a      preliminary      evidence    or      better understand the etiology           practices and the environmental
mechanism for our previously                of these two diseases with very          effect (drought, CO2) on the
proposed “weakening hypothesis of           similar epidemiology and the             toxin content and the nutritional
root-sourced signal” under water            same clinical symptoms, but              quality are required for improving
deficit, and a potential agronomic          from     consuming    completely         their adaptation to various crop
approach to lower ODAP production           different food (konzo from               production systems and new
through modulating root-sourced             cassava         roots         and        niches. Introduction of cassava
signal behavior in grass pea.               neurolathyrism from grasspea             and grass pea into new niches
                                            seeds). There is a need to               needs to be accompanied by
KEYWORDS: plasma membrane                   explore the molecular pathways           knowledge         transfer      on
H+-ATPase, abscisic acid, drought           of both diseases and to find the         production     agronomy,     post-
stress, grass pea, ODAP.                    common       biochemical      and        harvest processing, risks and
                                            neurobiological events. From this        opportunities. Introduction of
                                            common       ground,     effective       both crops in the same cropping
                                            prevention strategies can be             systems and niches might have
      Workshop on                           designed.                                a synergistic effect on the
    Toxico-Nutritional                                                               incidence of konzo and/of
                                         2. We need to more correctly                neurolathyrism       and    needs
Neurodegenerations Konzo                    evaluate the nutritional quality         preliminary       studies     with
     and Lathyrism                          of these two most hardy                  experimental animals.
 Ghent, 21-22 September                     lifesaver crops and their
          2009                              contribution to food security as      5. There is an urgent need to
                                            well as to dispel the misgivings         standardize        the       food
                                            about      the   toxico-nutritional      processing methods and food
Recommendations from the                    problems        (konzo         and       preparations for lowering toxins
   Cassava/konzo-Grass                      neurolathyrism) associated with          in cassava roots and grass pea
 pea/neurolathyrism Group                   these crops. The presence of             seeds for safe consumption.
                                            toxins (neuro-active amino acids         Fermentation and bio-fortification
Because of their ability to perform         and nitriles) as well as the             of cassava and grass pea foods
well in marginal soils and under            deficiency of essential nutrients        needs focused research for
harsh     agro-climatic   conditions,       need      to   be     considered.        optimized nutrition and a better
cassava (Manihot esculenta) and             Especially the sulfur amino acids        balanced diet.
grass pea (Lathyrus sativus) offer          that are deficient in both crops      6. Multi-disciplinary          efforts
ample opportunities for sustainable         need special consideration. With         involving             nutritionists,
agriculture and food security for the       genetic enhancement of the               toxicologists, neuropathologists,
poorest of the poor in the context of       crops and optimized post-harvest         biochemists, plant scientists and
climate change. These crops have            processing, the nutritional status       social scientists are required for
also been associated with health            of the populations depending on          solving these global problems of
problems of konzo, tropical ataxic          these crops can be much                  konzo and neurolathyrism. A
neuropathy         (TAN)         and        improved.                                formal research forum with
neurolathyrism,       which       are                                                Fernand Lambein, IPBO, Ghent
                                                                                                                       22
   University as its coordinator is       CCDN News is the Newsletter of the Cassava       Dr. Dulce Nhassico from Mozambique
                                          Cyanide Diseases and Neurolathyrism Network      first produced the ‘Poison Poster’ that
   recommended to establish a             (CCDNN). The CCDNN is a free, worldwide          gives instructions (developed by Dr.
   network of researchers for             network commenced in June 2001, which is         Howard Bradbury in Australia) on how to
   effective sharing of information       working towards the elimination of konzo, TAN,
                                                                                           process cassava flour to reduce the
   on these two crops and on the          other    cassava cyanide       diseases    and
                                          neurolathyrism.                                  cyanide poison in it to a safe level.
   prevention    of   konzo    and        CCDN News will consider for publication short    The original version was in Portuguese
   neurolathyrism.                        articles and letters (1-3 pages A 4 double       and linked the poison with the danger of
                                          spaced) written in English                       getting konzo.
7. Konzo and Neurolathyrism are           Because CCDN News is a newsletter, full-size     Since the original version was produced,
   seen as clinical symptoms of           original papers or reviews cannot be             the poster has been translated into a
                                          considered for publication. Material published
   abject         poverty          and    in CCDN News may be freely reproduced, but
                                                                                           number of languages and the wider
   malnutrition. Making konzo and         please always indicate that it comes from        effects of the poison mentioned, not just
   neurolathyrism          reportable     CCDN News. Please send all correspondence        konzo.
   diseases can make emergency            to the CCDNN Coordinator, Dr J Howard            When the poster first came out, a simple
                                          Bradbury, Botany and Zoology, Research           cassava flour processing method which
   food aid more effective and will       School of Biology, Australian National           took 5 hours to complete was available
   help     to   direct    agricultural   University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.
                                                                                           to reduce the poison. A modified method
   development       to   the    most                                                      is now available which takes 2 hours.
   neglected and the really needy.                                                         The posters are being changed to
   Prevention      of     malnutrition                                                     include both options.
   through diversification of diets,
   alleviation   of     poverty    and      Versions of the poster below are currently available in Amharic, Ateso, English,
   improved education needs to be                     French, Hausa, Kifuliru, Kiswahili, Macua and Portuguese.
   effectively        communicated
   among the different stakeholders
   in order to give cassava and
   grass pea the right place in a
   healthy diet. The poorest of the
   poor subsistence farmers who
   survive on grass pea and
   cassava as a source of staple
   food and an insurance crop
   should be identified and mapped.
   Involvement of policy makers,
   education institutions, NGOs,
   self-help groups and different
   stakeholders in communicating
   about the benefits and risks of
   cassava and grass pea needs to
   be ensured. Local knowledge
   associated with these two
   orphan crops needs to be
   documented for the benefit of
   society. This has to be coupled
   with rehabilitation programs for
   the affected people.
8. In order to activate these
   recommendations, there is a
   need to develop research
   project proposals for financial
   assistance from national and
   international donors (FAO, WHO,
   BM Gates Foundation, EU, JICA,
   ACIAR, USAID, DFID, DANIDA).
   There is also need for a
   Konzo—lathyrism               (or
   Cassava-Grass pea)
   Newsletter      as    a   regular
   periodical as a tool to speed up
   communication and information.

Coordinator’s Note: It is hoped that
part of Recommendation 8 has been
adequately fulfilled, by expansion of
the Cassava Cyanide Diseases
Network News into the Cassava
Cyanide Diseases & Neurolathyrism
News.

                                                                                                                                23
                                                      Author and E-mail Index
Name                  e-mail address                      Page           Llorens J.           jllorens@ub.edu                 15
Ahmed S.                                                  9              Lola J. M.                                           6
Balegamire J. M.                                          6              Lund O. S.                                           19
Balegamire S.                                             6              Lyddiard J. R. A.                                    13
Balol’ebwami S. Z.                                        6              Maheshe B.                                           6
Banea-Mayambu J. P.   jpbanea@yahoo.fr                    5, 6, 8, 12    Malela Pingudi                                       12
Bejiga G.             G.Bejiga@cgiar.org                  17             Masheka O. C.        oliviermasheka@yahoo.fr         6
Bonnet M. J.                                              6              Masika Y. D.                                         11
Bradbury J. H.        Howard.Bradbury@anu.edu.au          4, 5, 8        Mba C.                                               18
Brimer L.             leon.brimer@gmail.com               9, 11          Mihailović V.                                        20
Callewaert G.                                             16             Mikić A.             mikic@ifvcns.ns.ac.rs           20
Chabwine J. N.        jo_nsimy@yahoo.fr                   6              Minoura A.           phai09018@g.nihon-u.ac.jp       16
Chitundu M.                                               9              Mlingi N.L.V.        nmlingi@yahoo.co.uk             5
Chiwona-Karltun L.    Linley.Chiwona.Karltun@sol.slu.se   9, 11          Mogliani L.                                          21
Chowdhury T. L. D.                                        21             Mulumba Nkuadi A.    mulnkuadi@yahoo.fr              5, 12
Ciglenecki I.         Iza.ciglenecki@geneva.msf.org       6              Muquinque H.                                         4
Cliff J.              julie.cliff@gmail.com               4, 8           Mutendela K.                                         6
Constantin G. D.                                          19             Mwanza J. C.         jcmwanza@hotmail.com            15
Ćupina B.                                                 20             Nahimana Gitebo D.   damienahimana@yahoo.fr          5, 8
Dadi L.                                                   12             Nakweti K.                                           18
De Bock M.                                                16             Nambisan B.          balanambisan@yahoo.co.uk        17
De Vuyst E.                                               16             Ndiku L.                                             18
Decrock E.                                                16             Ndofunsu D.          aimediamuini@yahoo.fr           18
Denton I. C.                                              8              Nemery B.                                            6
Dereje K. G.          kassagetu@yahoo.com                 18             Ngude H.                                             5
Diasolua Ngudi D.     ddiasolu@yahoo.com                  6              Nhassico D.                                          4
Dufour D. L.          darna.dufour@colorado.edu           4              Nkya S.                                              5
ðurić B.                                                  20             Nunga Matadi R.                                      8
Enneking D.           enneking@westnet.com.au             15, 21         Nunn P. B.           shoeman_r@yahoo.co.uk           13
Eshete M.                                                 9              Nyamabo L. K.                                        15
Eyema R.                                                  6              Nyirenda D. B.       bandanyirenda@gmail.com         9, 11
Fan X.W.                                                  21             Nzwalo H.                                            4
Feleke A.             felekeam@yahoo.com                  7              Otono B.                                             18
Fikre A.              fikreasnake@yahoo.com               7, 9, 19       Pandey R .L.                                         13
Gebre-Medhin M.                                           8              Rao S. L. N.         slnrao213@rediffmail.com        3
Geda A. K.                                                13             Rosling H.           hans.rosling@ki.se              8
Getahun H.            getahunh@who.int                    9              Rutega B.                                            6
Girma A.              antegirma@yahoo.com                 12             Shangalume O.                                        6
Girma D.              doju12@yahoo.com                    19             Sundaresan S.                                        17
Haque M. R.           dr_rabiul@yahoo.com                 10             Takyun A.                                            19
Ikegami F.                                                13, 16         Talukdar D.                                          20
Iommarini L.                                              21             Tatala S.R.                                          5
Jamckowicz J.                                             18             Tate M.              max.tate@adelaide.edu.au        21
Jiang J.L.                                                11, 18         Tavoletti S.         s.tavoletti@univpm.it           21
Jiao C.J.             jiaochj02@st.lzu.edu.cn             11, 18, 21     Tefera B.                                            12
Johansen I. E.        e.johansen@dias.kvl.dk              19             Tekle-Haimanot R.                                    7
Kabanda C.                                                6              Terryn N.                                            19
Kabena O. N. G.                                           11             Tshala–Katumbay D.   tshalad@ohsu.edu                14, 15
Ke L.M.                                                   11, 18         Tylleskar T.         Thorkild.Tylleskar@cih.uib.no   5, 8
Kejuni K.                                                 18             Taafo F.                                             6
Kolsteren P.                                              6              Urbaniak V.                                          6
Kong H.Y.                                                 21             Van Den Bosch L.                                     16
Krstić ð.                                                 20             Van Moorhem M.       Marijke.VanMoorhem@UGent.be     14, 16
Kuo Y.H.              yuhaeyKuo@ugent.be                  9, 10, 19      Vasić M.                                             20
Kusama T.                                                 13, 16         Wang C.Y.            wangcy@lzu.edu.cn               11, 18, 21
Kusama-Eguchi K.      kusama.kuniko@nihon-u.ac.jp         13, 16         Wang N.                                              16
Kwon-Ndung E. H.      kwon_ndung@yahoo.com                19             Wang X.Y.                                            11, 18
Lambein F.            fernand.lambein@gmail.com           6, 7, 9, 10,   Wang Y.F.                                            21
                                                          13, 14, 16,    Watanabe K.                                          16
                                                          19
                                                                         Xiong Y.C.           xiongyc@lzu.edu.cn              11, 18, 21
Leybaert L.           Luc.Leybaert@UGent.be               14, 16
                                                                         Yamazaki Y.                                          13
Li C.                                                     11, 18
                                                                         Yandju D. L. M. C.   mcyandju@yahoo.fr               11
Li F.M.                                                   11, 18, 21
                                                                         Yoshino N.                                           16
Li P.F.                                                   21
Li Z.X.                                                   11, 18, 21




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Description: 1 Working together to eliminate cyanide poisoning, konzo, tropical