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Dean A. Kopsell, David E. Kopsell, and Joanne Curran-Celentano

Kale (Brassica oleracea L.) ranks highest among vegetable crops for lutein and beta-carotene carotenoids, which function as antioxidants in disease prevention. Nitrogen (N) rate and N form influence plant growth and alter pigment composition and accumulation. The objectives of these experiments were to investigate the effect of N rate and form on biomass and accumulation of plant pigments in the leaf tissues of kale. Three kale cultivars were grown using nutrient solution culture. In the first study, N treatment rates were 6, 13, 26, 52, and 105 mg·L–1, at a constant NH4-N:NO3-N ratio. Kale biomass increased linearly in response to increasing N rate. On a fresh weight basis, lutein and beta-carotene were not affected by N rate. However, carotenoids calculated on a dry weight basis increased linearly in response to increasing N rate. In a second study, kale was grown under: 100% NH4-N:0% NO3-N, 75% NH4-N:25% NO3-N, 50% NH4-N:50% NO3-N, 25% NH4-N:75% NO3-N, and 0% NH4-N:100% NO3-N, at a N rate of 105 mg·L–1. Linear increases in biomass were observed for each kale cultivar as percentage of NO3-N increased. Lutein concentrations increased 155%, 73%, and 39% for `Toscano', `Winterbor', and `Redbor' kale, respectively, as N form changed 0% NO3-N to 100% NO3-N. Concentration of leaf beta-carotene increased linearly in response to increasing NO3-N in each cultivar tested. Nitrogen management should be considered in crop production programs designed to increase the concentrations of nutritionally important carotenoids.

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Dean A. Kopsell, David E. Kopsell, and Joanne Curran-Celentano

Therapeutic compounds in herbal crops are gaining recent attention. Sweet basil (Ocimumbasilicum L.) is a popular culinary herbal crop grown for both fresh and dry leaf markets. Recently, basil (unidentified cultivar) was shown to rank highest among spices and herbal crops for xanthophylls carotenoids. This class of carotenoids is associated with decreased risks of certain cancer and age-related eye diseases. The research goal for the current study was to characterize the concentrations of nutritionally important carotenoid pigments among popular varieties of basil. Eight cultivars of sweet basil (`Genovese', `Italian Large Leaf', `Nufar', `Red Rubin', `Osmin Purple', `Spicy Bush', `Cinnamon', and `Sweet Thai') were grown in both field and greenhouse environments and evaluated for plant pigments using HPLC methodology. Environmental and cultivar differences were significant for all of the pigments analyzed. `Sweet Thai' accumulated the highest concentrations of lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene carotenoids, while `Italian Large Leaf' had the lowest concentrations. Comparing the two environments, cultivar means for carotenoid and chlorophyll pigments were higher in the field environment when expressed on both a fresh and dry weight basis. Exceptions were found only for the purple leaf basils (`Osmin Purple' and `Red Rubin'). Positive and highly significant correlations existed between carotenoid and chlorophyll pigments in both environments. This study demonstrates that sweet basil can accumulate high levels of nutritionally important carotenoids in both field and greenhouse environments.

Free access

Dean A. Kopsell, David E. Kopsell, and Joanne Curran-Celentano

Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is a popular culinary herbal crop grown for fresh or dry leaf, essential oil, and seed markets. Recently, basil was shown to rank highest among spices and herbal crops for xanthophyll carotenoids, which are associated with decreased risks of cancer and age-related eye diseases. The research goal for the current study was to characterize the concentrations of nutritionally important carotenoid pigments in popular varieties of basil. Eight cultivars of sweet basil (`Genovese', `Italian Large Leaf', `Nufar', `Red Rubin', `Osmin Purple', `Spicy Bush', `Cinnamon', and `Sweet Thai') were grown in both field and greenhouse environments and evaluated for plant pigments using HPLC methodology. Environmental and cultivar differences were observed for all of the pigments analyzed. `Sweet Thai' accumulated the highest concentrations of lutein, zeaxanthin, and β-carotene carotenoids in the field, while `Osmin Purple' accumulated the highest carotenoid concentrations in the greenhouse. Comparing the two environments, cultivar levels for carotenoid and chlorophyll pigments were higher in the field environment when expressed on both a fresh and dry weight basis. Exceptions were found only for the purple leaf basils (`Osmin Purple' and `Red Rubin'). Positive correlations existed between carotenoid and chlorophyll pigments in both environments. This study demonstrates sweet basil accumulates high levels of nutritionally important carotenoids in both field and greenhouse environments.

Free access

Dean A. Kopsell, Scott McElroy, Carl Sams, and David Kopsell

Vegetable crops can be significant sources of nutritionally important dietary carotenoids and Brassica vegetables are sources that also exhibit antioxidant and anticarcinogenic activity. The family Brassicaceae contains a diverse group of plant species commercially important in many parts of the world. The six economically important Brassica species are closely related genetically. Three diploid species (B. nigra, B. rapa, and B. oleracea) are the natural progenitors of the allotetraploid species (B. juncea, B. napus, and B. carinata). The objective of this study was to characterize the accumulation of important dietary carotenoid pigments among the genetically related Brassica species. The HPLC quantification revealed significant differences in carotenoid and chlorophyll pigment accumulation among the Brassica species. Brassica nigra accumulated the highest concentrations of lutein, 5,6-epoxy lutein, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin. The highest concentrations of beta-carotene and total chlorophyll were found in B. juncea. Brassica rapa accumulated the highest concentrations of zeaxanthin and antheraxanthin. For each of the pigments analyzed, the diploid Brassica species accumulated higher concentrations, on average, than the amphidiploid species. Brassicas convey unique health attributes when consumed in the diet. Identification of genetic relationships among the Brassica species would be beneficial information for improvement programs designed to increase carotenoid values.

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Dean A. Kopsell, William M. Randle, and Harry A. Mills

Brassica species are important economic vegetable crop, and it is possible to enrich them with selenium (Se) to supplement human diets. The health benefits associated with increased Se consumption include cancer suppression, reduced heart disease, and immune system enhancement. Vegetables enriched with Se can serve as excellent delivery systems of organic Se forms, which are more beneficial than traditional Se supplements. The vegetable Brassicas are consumed not only for their flavor, but also for their nutritional content. A heterogeneous population of rapid-cycling B. oleracea was used as a model system to study the effects of added selenate-Se on other plant micro- and macronutrients. Plants were grown in nutrient solutions amended with sodium selenate at 0.0, 3.0, 6.0, and 9.0 mg·L–1. Leaf tissues were then analyzed for nutrient content. Boron (P = 0.001) and iron (P = 0.01) content decreased, while selenium (P = 0.001), sulfur (P = 0.001), and potassium (P = 0.001) increased with increasing selenate-Se. Significant quadratic responses were found for calcium (P = 0.02), copper (P = 0.05), magnesium (P = 0.01), and molybdenum (P = 0.01). No differences in leaf fresh or dry weight were detected. Changes in plant nutrient content can be expected when Brassicas are enhanced for delivery of beneficial organic Se.

Open access

Hunter A. Hammock, Dean A. Kopsell, and Carl E. Sams

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) can produce a wide range of narrowband wavelengths with varying intensities. Previous studies have demonstrated that supplemental blue (B) and red (R) wavelengths from LEDs impact plant development, physiology, and morphology. High-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting systems are commonly used in greenhouse production, but LEDs have gained popularity in recent years because of their improved energy efficiency and spectral control. Research is needed to determine the efficacy of supplementary B and R LED narrowband wavelengths compared with traditional lighting systems like HPS in terms of yield, quality, and energy consumption for a variety of greenhouse-grown high-value specialty crops. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of LED and HPS lighting on greenhouse hydroponic basil (Ocimum basilicum var. ‘Genovese’) biomass production and edible tissue nutrient concentrations across different growing seasons. Basil was chosen because of its high demand and value among restaurants and professional chefs. A total of eight treatments were used: one nonsupplemented natural light (NL) control; one HPS treatment; and six LED treatments (peaked at 447 nm/627 nm, ±20 nm) with progressive B/R ratios (10B/90R; 20B/80R; 30B/70R; 40B/60R; 50B/50R; and 60B/40R). Each supplemented light (SL) treatment provided 8.64 mol·m−2·d−1 (100 µmol·m−2·s−1, 24 h·d−1). The daily light integral (DLI) of the NL control averaged 9.5 mol·m−2·d−1 across all growing seasons (ranging from 4 to 18 mol·m−2·d−1). Relative humidity averaged 50%, with day/night temperatures averaging 27.4 °C/21.8 °C, respectively. LED treatments had the greatest total fresh biomass (FM) and dry biomass (DM) accumulation; biomass for LED treatments were 1.3 times greater on average than HPS, and 2 times greater than the NL control. Biomass partitioning revealed that the LED treatments had more FM and DM for the individual main stem, shoots, and leaves of each plant at varying levels. LED treatments resulted in greater height and main stem diameter. Some essential nutrient concentrations were impacted by SL treatments and growing season. An energy analysis revealed that on average, narrowband B/R LED treatments were 3 times more energy efficient at increasing biomass over HPS. LED treatments reduced SL energy cost per gram FM increase by 95% to 98% when compared with HPS. In addition, the rate of electricity consumption to biomass increase varied across LED treatments, which demonstrates that basil uses different B/R narrowband ratios at varying efficiencies. This experiment shows that spectral quality of both supplemental sources and natural sunlight impacts primary metabolic resource partitioning of basil. The application of LED lighting systems to supplement natural DLI and spectra during unfavorable growing seasons has the potential to increase overall biomass accumulation and nutrient concentrations in a variety of high-value specialty crops.

Free access

Dean A. Kopsell, Carl E. Sams, and Robert C. Morrow

Light is one of the most important environmental stimuli impacting plant growth and development. Plants have evolved specialized pigment-protein complexes, commonly referred to as photoreceptors, to capture light energy to drive photosynthetic processes, as well as to respond to changes in light quality and quantity. Blue light can act as a powerful environmental signal regulating phototropisms, suppression of stem elongation, chloroplast movements, stomatal regulation, and cell membrane transport activity. An emerging application of light-emitting diode (LED) technology is for horticultural plant production in controlled environments. Work by our research group is measuring important plant responses to different wavelengths of light from LEDs. We have demonstrated positive impacts of blue wavelengths on primary and secondary metabolism in microgreen and baby leafy green brassica crops. Results show significant increases in shoot tissue pigments, glucosinolates, and essential mineral elements following exposure to higher percentages of blue wavelengths from LED lighting. The perception of energy-rich blue light by specialized plant photoreceptors appears to trigger a cascade of metabolic responses, which is supported by current research showing stimulation of primary and secondary metabolite biosynthesis following exposure to blue wavelengths. Management of the light environment may be a viable means to improve concentrations of nutritionally important primary and secondary metabolites in specialty vegetable crops.

Free access

T. Casey Barickman, Dean A. Kopsell, and Carl E. Sams

Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are chemicals used on a wide range of horticultural crops. These exogenous chemicals, similar to endogenous plant hormones, regulate plant development and stimulate a desired growth response, such as control of plant height. One such PGR is abscisic acid (ABA), which has been used effectively to improve fruit quality, specifically sugars and phytonutrients. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of exogenous applications of ABA on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) fruit quality, such as carotenoids, soluble sugars and organic acids, and ABA on tomato leaf chlorophylls and carotenoids. Furthermore, this study compared how ABA and calcium (Ca) treatments together affect fruit quality and whether there are added benefits to treating plants with both simultaneously. ABA treatments proved effective in increasing tomato fruit soluble sugars and decreasing organic acid concentrations. This study demonstrated that ABA is a viable PGR to significantly improve tomato fruit quality, specifically pertaining to carotenoids, soluble sugar, and organic acid concentrations.

Free access

Vincent Martineau, Mark Lefsrud, Most Tahera Naznin, and Dean A. Kopsell

Recent irradiance level improvements in light-emitting diode (LED) technology has allowed this equipment to compete as suitable replacements to traditional high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps in hydroponics growth environments. The current study compares LED and HPS lighting technologies for supplemental lighting in a greenhouse at HydroSerre Mirabel (Mirabel, Quebec, Canada) for the growth of Boston lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. capitata). The light treatments were applied for 2 hours before sunset and 8.5 hours after sunset to extend the photoperiod to 18 hours. An average total light irradiance (natural and supplemental) of 71.3 mol·m−2 for HPS and 35.8 mol·m−2 for LED were recorded over the 4 weeks of each experimental run. Wet and dry biomass of the shoots was recorded. On average, HPS light treatments produced significantly similar shoot biomass compared with LED light treatment, although the LED lamps provided roughly half the amount of supplemental light compared with the HPS lamps during the 4 weeks of the experimental treatment. Analysis of the lettuce samples showed no significant difference in concentrations of β-carotene, chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, neoxanthin, lutein, and antheraxanthin among the light treatments; however, violaxanthin concentrations showed a statistical difference resulting from light treatment. When measured on an energy basis, the LED lamps provide an energy savings of at least 33.8% and the minimal “regular” HPS provided an energy savings of 77.8% over the HPS treatment.

Free access

Victoria L. Davidson*, Dean A. Kopsell, and James E. Pollard

Experiments were conducted to investigate the potential effect on floral bud initiation in strawberry (Fragaria × ananasa, cv. Chandler) by interrupting inductive short day cycles with a day-length extension treatment. Vegetative plants were exposed to 10-, 15-, or 20-day cycles of inductive short days in growth chambers. After receiving an inductive short day treatment plants were transferred to a greenhouse where they were exposed to non-inductive long days, which stimulated panicle elongation. Dissections of apical meristems immediately following each cycle of short days revealed that cycles of 20 days resulted in detectable floral bud formation. After 15 days in the greenhouse, all short day treatments had initiated floral buds. In the greenhouse, under long days, subsequent flowering in cohorts of plants which had previously received inductive short days showed a positive correlation between interruption of short days with day length extension and reduction in the number of floral buds initiated on earliest emerging panicles. These results suggest potential for manipulation of floral bud induction and potentially fruit size in Chandler, and perhaps other cultivars by interruption of a cycle of inductive short days with a day length extension treatment.