Effect of Plant Hormones and Distillation Water on Mints

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  • 1 Mississippi State University, North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, 5421 Highway 145 South, Verona, MS 38879
  • 2 Department of Engineering, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, 50 Pictou Road, P.O. Box 550, Truro, NS B2N 5E3, Canada
  • 3 Mississippi State University, North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, 5421 Highway 145 South, Verona, MS 38879

Steam distillation of essential oil crops produces residual distillation wastewater that is released into the environment. This study evaluated the effects of three plant hormones [methyl jasmonate (MJ); gibberellic acid (GA3); and salicylic acid (SA)] at three concentrations and the residual distillation water from 15 plant species applied as foliar spray on biomass yields, essential oil content, and essential oil yield of Mentha ×piperita ‘Black Mitcham’ and Mentha spicata ‘Native’. Overall, the application of SA at 1000 mg·L−1 increased biomass yields of both species. More treatments influenced essential oil content in ‘Black Mitcham’ peppermint than in ‘Native’ spearmint. Application of MJ at 100 and 1000 mg·L−1, GA3 at 10 mg·L−1, SA at 10 or 100 mg·L−1, and distillation water of Achillea millefolium, Ammi majus, Artemisia absinthium, Cymbopogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon martinii, Chrysanthemum balsamita, and Hypericum perforatum increased the essential oil content of peppermint, whereas the oil content of spearmint was increased only by application of Monarda fistulosa distillation water. Application of MJ at 100 mg·L−1, SA at 100 mg·L−1, and A. absinthium, C. flexuosus, and C. balsamita distillation waters increased essential oil yields of peppermint, whereas the application of SA at 1000 mg·L−1 and distillation water of A. absinthium, Lavandula vera, and M. fistulosa increased oil yields of spearmint. This study demonstrated that the residual distillation water of some aromatic plant species may be used as a tool for increasing essential oil content or essential oil yields of peppermint and spearmint crops.

Abstract

Steam distillation of essential oil crops produces residual distillation wastewater that is released into the environment. This study evaluated the effects of three plant hormones [methyl jasmonate (MJ); gibberellic acid (GA3); and salicylic acid (SA)] at three concentrations and the residual distillation water from 15 plant species applied as foliar spray on biomass yields, essential oil content, and essential oil yield of Mentha ×piperita ‘Black Mitcham’ and Mentha spicata ‘Native’. Overall, the application of SA at 1000 mg·L−1 increased biomass yields of both species. More treatments influenced essential oil content in ‘Black Mitcham’ peppermint than in ‘Native’ spearmint. Application of MJ at 100 and 1000 mg·L−1, GA3 at 10 mg·L−1, SA at 10 or 100 mg·L−1, and distillation water of Achillea millefolium, Ammi majus, Artemisia absinthium, Cymbopogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon martinii, Chrysanthemum balsamita, and Hypericum perforatum increased the essential oil content of peppermint, whereas the oil content of spearmint was increased only by application of Monarda fistulosa distillation water. Application of MJ at 100 mg·L−1, SA at 100 mg·L−1, and A. absinthium, C. flexuosus, and C. balsamita distillation waters increased essential oil yields of peppermint, whereas the application of SA at 1000 mg·L−1 and distillation water of A. absinthium, Lavandula vera, and M. fistulosa increased oil yields of spearmint. This study demonstrated that the residual distillation water of some aromatic plant species may be used as a tool for increasing essential oil content or essential oil yields of peppermint and spearmint crops.

In the process of extracting essential oil from aromatic plants through steam distillation, there is the production of waste distillation water, which is released into the environment (Lawrence, 2007; Topalov, 1989). The distillation water results from partial condensation of steam passing through the aromatic biomass. It is different from the hydrolat, the water eluted after separation of the essential oil, which is often reprocessed to recover traces of essential oil. Finding new uses for this waste product would benefit essential oil crop growers and processors as well as the environment. It was shown that the distillation wastewater of sage, thyme, and rosemary contained antioxidants and could be used as an ingredient in marinades for turkey meat to inhibit lipid oxidation and the development of rancid off-flavors (Mielnik et al., 2008). We hypothesized that residual distillation water could have an effect on peppermint (Mentha ×piperita L.) and spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) plants when used as a foliar spray.

Peppermint and spearmint were chosen as test plants because these crops are the most widely grown essential oil crops both in the United States (Lawrence, 2007; National Agricultural Statistic Service, 2009) and worldwide (Lawrence, 2007). Moreover, the U.S. essential oil industry is aiming to expand the acreage of peppermint and spearmint in the South, triggering some recent studies in the southeastern United States (Zheljazkov et al., 2010a, 2010b). Commercially important peppermint products are the essential oil, dry leaves for the herbal tea market, and fresh herbage for the fresh herb market, whereas spearmint is used mostly for essential oil production and as a fresh culinary herb [Lawrence, 2007; Mint Industry Research Council (MIRC), 2009; Mustiatse, 1985; Topalov, 1989]. Peppermint and spearmint essential oils are used in chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwashes, confectionaries, pharmaceuticals, and aromatherapy products (Lawrence, 2007; MIRC, 2009). If the distillation wastewater from an aromatic crop is shown to have growth-promoting effects on peppermint and spearmint or improve their essential oil content, such an extract could be applied to large-scale production systems, bringing significant economic benefits. Finding new uses of a waste product would also improve the environmental sustainability of the essential oil production industry.

Materials and Methods

Plant materials and growing conditions of the field experiment.

The pot experiment was preceded by a field experiment in which 15 essential oil crops were grown in a randomized complete block in four replicates for one season, harvested, and extracted to obtain the distillation wastewater. The 15 essential oil crops were: wormwood, Artemisia absinthium L.; bishop's weed, Ammi majus L.; yarrow, Achillea millefolium L.; alecost, Chrysanthemum balsamita L.; lemon grass, Cymbopogon flexuosus (Nees ex Steud.) Will. Watson; palmarosa, Cymbopogon martinii (Roxb.) Wats.; hyssop, Hyssopus officinalis L.; St. John's wort, Hypericum perforatum L.; lavender, Lavandula vera D.C.; wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa L.; shiso, Perilla frutescens (L.) Britton.; rue, Ruta graveolens L.; endemic Balkan winter savory, Satureja pilosa L.; Balkan sideritis, Sideritis scardica Griseb.; and feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium (L.) Sch. Bip. All 15 crops were grown under the same conditions on plastic-covered raised beds as described previously (Zheljazkov et al., 2008). After harvest, representative samples from the 15 crops were dried at a shady location, and subsamples of 300 g dried biomass from each crop in three replications were extracted by steam distillation. The steam distillation was performed for 60 min in 2-L Clevenger-type distillation units as described previously (Zheljazkov et al., 2008), and the residual distillation water from each crop was collected and stored at 4 °C for use in the controlled environment experiment with spearmint and peppermint.

Controlled environment experiment.

For the pot study we used certified virus-free material of ‘Native’ spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) and ‘Black Mitcham’ peppermint (Mentha ×piperita L.). Transplants (10 to 12 cm high with a couple of well-developed pairs of leaves) of both cultivars were obtained from the Summit Plant Laboratories, Inc. (Fort Collins, CO). Because of their hybrid nature, commercial varieties of spearmint and peppermint are propagated vegetatively (Lawrence, 2007; Tucker, 1992; Tucker and Fairbrothers, 1990). The container experiment was conducted in 3-gallon pots with 3.1 kg of commercial growth medium (Metromix 300; Sun Gro Horticulture, Bellevue, WA) in each pot. In every pot, two plants were transplanted and grown for 4 months until harvest. The experiment was conducted in a controlled-environment greenhouse (22 to 25 °C/18 to 20 °C day/night temperature regime) with an individual drip-tape irrigation system and emitter in every pot. Nutrient application to each pot was equivalent to a field application of ≈240 kg N/ha. The design was a 2 × 25 factorial with three replications, making the total number of treatment combinations 50. Within each of the two species, Treatments 1 to 9 were the three plant hormones at three concentrations [methyl jasmonate (MJ) at 10, 100, and 1000 mg·L−1; gibberellic acid (GA3) at 10, 100, and 1000 mg·L−1; and salicylic acid (SA) at 10, 100, and 1000 mg·L−1]; Treatments 10 to 24 were the residual distillation water (extracts) from 15 essential oil crops; and Treatment 25 was the water control. We selected MJ, GA3, and SA as representative plant growth regulators from a large group of plant hormones.

The spearmint and peppermint plants in the controlled environment pot experiment were treated twice with hormone solutions and extracts: at the beginning of bud formation and again at the beginning of flowering. Each pot received ≈10 mL of solution or extract as a foliar spray at each treatment. Both mint species were harvested 7 d after the second treatment, when plants were blooming. Fresh biomass yields were recorded. After plants were dried at a shady location, the air-dried yields were recorded.

Essential oil extraction and analyses.

The essential oil from the spearmint and peppermint from each pot was extracted with steam distillation as described previously (Zheljazkov et al., 2010a, 2010b), and the essential oil was collected and measured. The essential oil composition of each sample was analyzed on a Hewlett Packard 6890 gas chromatograph (Agilent Technologies, Palo Alto, CA) with an autosampler [carrier gas helium, 40 cm·sec−1; 11.7 psi (60 °C); 2.5 mL·min−1 constant flow rate; injection: split (60:1), 0.5 μL, inlet 220 °C; oven temperature program: 60 °C for 1 min, 10 °C/min to 250 °C; column: HP-INNOWAX (Agilent Technologies) (crosslinked polyethylene glycol), 30 m × 0.32 mm × 0.5 μm; flame ionization detector temperature 275 °C].

Statistical analyses.

Dry weight and essential oil weight and content response measurements were analyzed as two-factor factorial of species (Mentha ×piperita and M. spicata) and treatment (25 treatments). The analysis of variance was performed using the GLM Procedure of SAS (SAS Institute Inc., 2003), and further multiple means comparison was performed when the main effect or interaction with species effect of treatment was significant (P < 0.05) using the lsmeans statement of Proc GLM at α = 0.01 to protect against the overinflation of the Type I experimentwise error rate. For each response, the validity of model assumptions on the error terms was verified by examining the residuals as described in Montgomery (2009).

Results and Discussion

Statistical analysis indicated that the interaction effect of species and treatment was significant on oil content and oil yield, whereas only the main effects were significant on dry biomass yield (Table 1). With regard to biomass yield, the application of SA at 1000 mg·L−1 increased yields of both mints relative to the control, whereas the other treatments were not significantly different from the control (Table 2). However, SA at only 10 mg·L−1 gave the lowest biomass yield.

Table 1.

Analysis of variance P values for testing the main and interaction effects of species and treatment on dry weight, essential oil weight, and essential oil content.z

Table 1.
Table 2.

Mean dry weight, essential oil content, and essential oil weight from the 25 treatments.z

Table 2.

The essential oil content was higher in peppermint than in spearmint in most, but not all, cases (Table 2). The essential oil content of peppermint varied from 0.77% (in the T. parthenium treatment) to 1.55% (in the MJ 100 mg·L−1 treatment), whereas the oil content of spearmint varied from 0.47% (in the GA3 10 mg·L−1 treatment) to 0.89% (in the M. fistulosa treatment). Treatments had different effects on the two mint species. For example, the application of MJ at 100 mg·L−1 and 1000 mg·L−1, GA3 at 10 mg·L−1, SA at 10 and 100 mg·L−1, and the distillation water of A. millefolium, A. majus, A. absinthium, C. flexuosus, C. martinii, C. balsamita, and H. perforatum increased the essential oil content of peppermint, whereas the oil content of spearmint was increased only by the application of M. fistulosa distillation water. The overall essential oil weight (a function of biomass yields and essential oil content) were also differently affected by the treatments in the two mint species (Table 2). The application of MJ at 100 mg·L−1, SA at 100 mg·L−1, and A. absinthium, C. flexuosus, C. balsamita, and R. graveolens distillation waters increased essential oil weight of peppermint, whereas the application of SA at 1000 mg·L−1 and distillation water of A. absinthium, L. vera, and M. fistulosa increased oil weight of spearmint. None of the treatments decreased essential oil weight of the mint species.

As a result of loss of oil samples during transportation, we do not have sufficient data to evaluate the effect of treatments on the composition of peppermint and spearmint oil. The essential oil analyses indicated that peppermint oil contained α-pinene, β-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, l-limonene, 1.8 cineole, paracimene, transsabinenehydrate, l-menthone, menthofuran, d-isomenthone, b-bourbonene, menthyl acetate, neo-menthol, b-cariophyllene, l-menthol, pulegone, germacrene-d, and piperitone. The major constituent was L-menthol, which varied from 37% to 47%, and in most instances, L-menthol was above 41%. This is within the typical range for high-quality peppermint oils (Lawrence, 2007) and is similar to previous reports (Chalchat et al., 1997; Mustiatse, 1985; Rohloff et al., 2005; Zheljazkov and Nielsen, 1996; Zheljazkov et al., 2010a). The spearmint essential oil contained α-pinene, β-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, l-limonene, 1.8 cineole, cis-ocimene, y-terpinene, 3-octyl acetate, 3-octanol, transsabinenehydrate, b-bourbonene, terpinene-4-ol, b-cariophyllene, dihydrocarvone, transdihydrocarvyl acetate, transb-farnesene, α-terpineol, geracrene-d, l-carvone, cis-carvyl acetate, transcarveol, cis-carveol, cis-jasmone, and viridiflorol. The major constituent was L-carvone; in most samples, it was above 65%, which is the expected concentration for this constituent in ‘Native’ spearmint oil (Bienvenu et al., 1999; Carvalho and Da Fonseca, 2006; Lawrence, 2007; Zheljazkov et al., 2010b).

This study demonstrated that the residual distillation water of some aromatic plant species, a waste product from distillation that is currently released into rivers and streams, may have an effect on crop species and may be used as a tool for increasing essential oil content or essential oil yields of peppermint and spearmint crops. Further research is needed to elucidate the effect of these treatments on essential oil composition and to verify the effects under field conditions.

Literature Cited

  • Bienvenu, F., Peterson, L. & Edwards, J. 1999 Native and Scotch spearmint oil production in Tasmania and Victoria A report for Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Publ. #99/147, Project #DAV-101A Australia Feb. 2010 <http://www.rirdc.gov.au/reports/index.htm>.

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  • Carvalho, C.C.C.R. de & Da Fonseca, M.M.R. 2006 Carvone: Why and how should one bother to produce this terpene? Food Chem. 95 413 422

  • Chalchat, J.C., Garry, R.P. & Michet, A. 1997 Variation of the chemical composition of essential oil of Mentha piperita L. during growing time J. Essent. Oil Res. 9 463 465

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lawrence, B.M. 2007 Mint: The genus Mentha CRC Press Boca Raton, FL

    • Export Citation
  • Mielnik, M.B., Sem, S., Egelandsdal, B. & Skrede, G. 2008 By-products from herbs essential oil production as ingredient in marinade for turkey thighs LWT Food Sci. Technol. 41 93 100

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mint Industry Research Council 2009 Dec. 2009 <http://usmintindustry.org/Home/tabid/53/Default.aspx>.

  • Montgomery, D.C. 2009 Design and analysis of experiments 7th Ed Wiley New York, NY

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  • Mustiatse, G.I. 1985 Kultura miaty perechnoi (peppermint) Stiintsa, Chisinau, Moldova

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  • Rohloff, J., Dragland, S., Mordal, R. & Tor-Henning, I. 2005 Effect of harvest time and drying method on biomass production, essential oil yield and quality of peppermint (Mentha ×piperita L.) J. Agr. Food Chem. 53 4143 4148

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SAS Institute Inc 2003 SAS OnlineDoc 9.1 SAS Institute Inc Cary, NC

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  • Topalov, V.D. 1989 Mentha 372 381 Topalov, V.D., Dechev, I.I. & Pehlivanov, M.S. Plant production Zemizdat Press Sofia, Bulgaria

  • Tucker, A.O. 1992 The truth about mints Herb Companion 4 51 52

  • Tucker, A.O. & Fairbrothers, D.E. 1990 The origin of Mentha ×gracilis (Lamiaceae). I. Chromosome numbers, fertility, and three morphological characters Econ. Bot. 44 183 213

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zheljazkov, V. & Nielsen, N.E. 1996 Effect of heavy metals on peppermint and cornmint Plant Soil 178 59 66

  • Zheljazkov, V.D., Cantrell, C.L., Astatkie, T. & Ebelhar, M.W. 2010a Peppermint productivity and oil composition as a function of nitrogen, growth stage, and harvest time Agron. J. 102 124 128

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zheljazkov, V.D., Cantrell, C.L., Astatkie, T. & Ebelhar, M.W. 2010b Productivity, oil content and composition of two spearmint species in Mississippi Agron. J. 102 129 133

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zheljazkov, V.D., Cantrell, C.L., Tekwani, B. & Khan, S. 2008 Content, composition, and bioactivity of the essential oil of three basil genotypes as a function of harvesting J. Agr. Food Chem. 56 380 385

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Contributor Notes

This research was funded by ARS Specific Cooperative Agreement 58-6402-4-026 with CRIS MIS-172050 [research grant “Medicinal Herbs Research in Mississippi,” awarded to Dr. Jeliazkov (Zheljazkov)].

Approved for publication as Journal Article No. J-11844 of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experment Station, Mississippi State University.

Associate Research Professor.

Professor.

Research Associate.

Extension Agent.

To whom reprint requests should be addressed; e-mail vj40@pss.msstate.edu.

  • Bienvenu, F., Peterson, L. & Edwards, J. 1999 Native and Scotch spearmint oil production in Tasmania and Victoria A report for Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Publ. #99/147, Project #DAV-101A Australia Feb. 2010 <http://www.rirdc.gov.au/reports/index.htm>.

    • Export Citation
  • Carvalho, C.C.C.R. de & Da Fonseca, M.M.R. 2006 Carvone: Why and how should one bother to produce this terpene? Food Chem. 95 413 422

  • Chalchat, J.C., Garry, R.P. & Michet, A. 1997 Variation of the chemical composition of essential oil of Mentha piperita L. during growing time J. Essent. Oil Res. 9 463 465

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lawrence, B.M. 2007 Mint: The genus Mentha CRC Press Boca Raton, FL

    • Export Citation
  • Mielnik, M.B., Sem, S., Egelandsdal, B. & Skrede, G. 2008 By-products from herbs essential oil production as ingredient in marinade for turkey thighs LWT Food Sci. Technol. 41 93 100

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mint Industry Research Council 2009 Dec. 2009 <http://usmintindustry.org/Home/tabid/53/Default.aspx>.

  • Montgomery, D.C. 2009 Design and analysis of experiments 7th Ed Wiley New York, NY

    • Export Citation
  • Mustiatse, G.I. 1985 Kultura miaty perechnoi (peppermint) Stiintsa, Chisinau, Moldova

    • Export Citation
  • National Agricultural Statistic Service 2009 June 2009 <http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Oregon/Publications/Field_Crop_Report/crop%20reports/01_13an.pdf>.

  • Rohloff, J., Dragland, S., Mordal, R. & Tor-Henning, I. 2005 Effect of harvest time and drying method on biomass production, essential oil yield and quality of peppermint (Mentha ×piperita L.) J. Agr. Food Chem. 53 4143 4148

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SAS Institute Inc 2003 SAS OnlineDoc 9.1 SAS Institute Inc Cary, NC

    • Export Citation
  • Topalov, V.D. 1989 Mentha 372 381 Topalov, V.D., Dechev, I.I. & Pehlivanov, M.S. Plant production Zemizdat Press Sofia, Bulgaria

  • Tucker, A.O. 1992 The truth about mints Herb Companion 4 51 52

  • Tucker, A.O. & Fairbrothers, D.E. 1990 The origin of Mentha ×gracilis (Lamiaceae). I. Chromosome numbers, fertility, and three morphological characters Econ. Bot. 44 183 213

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zheljazkov, V. & Nielsen, N.E. 1996 Effect of heavy metals on peppermint and cornmint Plant Soil 178 59 66

  • Zheljazkov, V.D., Cantrell, C.L., Astatkie, T. & Ebelhar, M.W. 2010a Peppermint productivity and oil composition as a function of nitrogen, growth stage, and harvest time Agron. J. 102 124 128

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zheljazkov, V.D., Cantrell, C.L., Astatkie, T. & Ebelhar, M.W. 2010b Productivity, oil content and composition of two spearmint species in Mississippi Agron. J. 102 129 133

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zheljazkov, V.D., Cantrell, C.L., Tekwani, B. & Khan, S. 2008 Content, composition, and bioactivity of the essential oil of three basil genotypes as a function of harvesting J. Agr. Food Chem. 56 380 385

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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