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TThe International Society for Horticultural Science  have published the Proceedings of the 2nd InternationalSymposium on Edible Alliaceae. c

TGrowing Great Garlic
  The definitive guide by Ron Engelandc

Tunceli Garlic to be farmed in Turkey?

Allium longicuspis and Allium tuncelianum have long been regarded as the wild ancestors of modern garlic. Both are widely distributed throughout Turkey and A. tuncelianum is of particular interest as it is a fully fertile species. Both A. tuncelianum and A. longicuspis smell of garlic when crushed and are used locally as a substitute for the modern cultivated forms of A. sativum.

Recent genetic research by Meryem Ipek and Philipp Simon has suggested that A. sativum and A. longicuspis should no longer be considered as genetically distinct and Brian Mathew, in his book A Review of Allium section Allium, puts forward the possibility that A. tuncelianum is the wild ancestor of both A. longicuspis and A. sativum.
A. tuncelianum is endemic to the region of Tunceli in central Turkey and is collected and consumed locally.
The continued collection from the wild has led to concerns about its survival as a wild species and as a result, the United Nations Development Programme awarded a small grant to the Accessible Life Association (UYD) who used the money to determine the cultivation conditions of the plant as well as market suitability, size and feasibility.

The project brought together some of the poorest farmers in the most underdeveloped region of Turkey with the aim of making them aware of the global importance of the plant and the need to protect it. It was hoped that small-scale cultivation would not only help to preserve the plant in the wild but might also lead to the development of a new cash crop for the region’s farmers.
The cultivation trials were carried out both in laboratory conditions and on a piece of land bought by 120 local farmers and were successfully completed in October 2003.

Garlic Fights Back Against MRSA

Researchers at the Chungshan Medical University Hospital in Taiwan have spent many years investigating the antimicrobial properties of garlic compounds and recent publications in the Journal of Medical Microbiology and the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy show the effectiveness of some compounds against a number of bacteria, and in particular methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
In 2001 the Journal of Medical Microbiology published a paper by Shyh-Ming Tsao and Mei-Chin Yin of the Department of Internal Medicine entitled ‘In-vitro antimicrobial activity of four diallyl sulphides occurring naturally in garlic and Chinese leek oils’. This work reported on the effectiveness of four naturally occurring diallyl sulphides against Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), three Candida species and three Aspergillus species. The results showed that diallyl disulphide, diallyl trisulphide, diallyl tetrasulphide and the oils rich in these sulphides may have a role in the prevention or treatment of infections.

Chungshan Medical University Hospital,Taiwan


The following year the effectiveness of garlic compounds against antibiotic-resistant bacteria was further strengthened when they published, ‘In vitro activity of garlic oil and four diallyl sulphides against antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae’. (pdf)
In 2003 the same researchers published a more focused piece of work entitled ‘Garlic extract and two diallyl sulphides inhibit methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection in BALB/cA mice’ in which they concluded that their ‘data strongly supported the conclusion that garlic extract, diallyl sulphide and diallyl disulphide possessed multiple protective functions against MRSA infection, in which diallyl sulphide and diallyl disulphide could be considered as novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of MRSA infection’.

It is now thought that MRSA causes an estimated 2,000 deaths in UK hospitals each year mainly through secondary infection of surgical wounds. Though MRSA organisms can live harmlessly in humans and are carried in the nasal passages and on the skin, they can cause fatal infection in immunologically-suppressed patients, the elderly, the young and those with surgical implants.
Doctors have become increasingly alarmed over the past few months by the emergence in UK hospitals of new generations of resistant strains of MRSA known as VISAs, and GISAs (Vancomycin or Glycopeptide resistant Staphylococcus aureus). MRSA has also become endemic in many hospitals, especially in London and the South-East, prompting the NHS to review its hygiene procedures.

(photo courtesy of Hendon & Finchley Times)
Following on from the work undertaken by Tsao and Yin in Taiwan, microbiologist Dr Ron Cutler of the University of East London (UEL) has undertaken clinical trials in the UK with some degree of success. His research on the laboratory effects of allicin on glycopeptide resistant Staphylococcus aureus (GISA) was presented in part at the Institute of Biomedical Scientists congress in Birmingham, October 2003, and subsequently published in August 2004 the British Journal of Biomedical Science. (Abstract)
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