Members of the Family Leporidae Can Select for Onions with High Soluble Sugars and Low Pyruvates

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  • 1 Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409

Over the past several growing seasons researchers at Texas Tech University have observed that certain onions appeal to rabbits more than other onions, meaning that rabbits tend to nibble on certain lines or varieties and leave other lines undisturbed. We were interested in determining the cahracteristics of the onions that rabbits seemed to like. Onions were planted at random in the TTU breeding nursery. During the growing season all onions were rated for rabbit appeal - those with chewed leaves and or bulbs were recorded as liked by the rabbits. All onions in each plot, whether disturbed or undisturbed by the rabbits, were tested for pyruvate concentration and soluble solids content after harvest. Pyruvates were measured by mmol/gram pyruvic acid and soluble solids content by °Brix refractometer reading. The most damage occurred in onion lines that had the lowest pyruvate levels. Soluble solids did not appear to affect the rabbits' nibbling.

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