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Ali O. Sari, Mario R. Morales, and James E. Simon

Low and erratic seed germination presents a major production problem in the medicinal plants that collectively are called echinacea or purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia and E. pallida). In this study, nine seed lots of each E. pallida and E. angustifolia from a wide variety of commercial sources and germplasm collections were collected and treated with a solution of 1.0 mm [144.5 mg·L-1 (ppm)] ethephon (2-chloroethylphosphoric acid) to determine whether ethephon would sufficiently improve seed germination to be used by industry to improve the quality of echinacea seed. Applicationof ethephon increased seed germination in both E. pallida and E. angustifolia seed lots regardless of seed sources. The increase in germination by ethephon in eight seed lots of E. pallida and four seed lots in E. angustifolia were statistically significant compared to the nontreated control seeds. The increases in germination were also significant across seed lots for both species. Average germination increases across all seed lots were 1271 and 29% for E. pallida and E. angustifolia, respectively. Average germination of ethephon treated-untreated control seed lots was 76% to 27% and 79% to 62% for E. pallida and E. angustifolia, respectively.

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Liangli Yu, Denys J. Charles, Amots Hetzroni, and James E. Simon

The volatiles of muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. reticulatis cv. Mission) were sampled by dichloromethane extraction and dynamic headspace methods and analyzed by gas chromatography (GC) and GC–mass spectroscopy (MS). A total of 34 constituents were identified, with esters contributing 8%–92% of the total volatiles. Butyl propionate, ethyl 3-methylpentanoate, hexadecanoic acid, methyl (methylthio)acetate, propyl butyrate, phenylpropyl alcohol, and vanillin, were recovered only by solvent extraction, while hexanal was only detected using dynamic headspace sampling. Methyl butyrate 35.2%, ethyl acetate 17.1%, butyl acetate 11.6%, ethyl propionate 8.3%, and 3-methylbutyl acetate 6.3% were the major constituents by solvent extraction sampling method. Butyl acetate 35.5%, 3-methylbutyl acetate 20.9%, ethyl acetate 7.3%, 2-butyl acetate 5.6%, and hexyl acetate 3.8% were the major constituents recovered by headspace sampling. Fruit tissue was also separated into five layers (exocarp, outer mesocarp, middle mesocarp, inner mesocarp, and seed cavity) and the volatile constituents differed significantly in content and composition by tissue.

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Christian Cabral Velho, Denys J. Charles, and James E. Simon

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James E. Simon, W. Dennis Scott, and Gerald Wilcox

A study was initiated at the Southwest Purdue Ag Center to demonstrate the effect of transplant age and transplanting date on the scheduling of melon harvests. Muskmelon (Cucumis melo cv. Superstar) was seeded into #38 growing trays with Jiffy-mix media. Seeding dates were such that 14 and 21 day old seedlings were transplanted April 25, May 9, 17 and 24. The plants were grown on black plastic with trickle irrigation Marketable fruit were harvested starting on June 28 and continuing through August 12. Neither transplant age or date had a significant effect on the number of fruit harvested or on total yield. However, each transplant date showed a distinctive harvest peak beginning June 30 for the April 26 transplant then June 7, 14 and 21 for each successive transplant date.

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Renee G. Nation, Jules Janick, and James E. Simon

The rate of outcrossing in basil [eight accessions of Ocimum basilicum L. and one accession purported to be O. kilimandscharicum Guerke (`Juicy Fruit')] was estimated using a purple seedling marker in `Dark Opal' (O. basilicum). There were two patterns of outcrossing: `Picollo' and four sources of `Cinnamon' basil had outcrossing rates between 19.9% and 32.8%, while `Lemon', PI 368699, PI 174284, and a Purdue selection named `Juicy Fruit' had outcrossing rates between 1.6% and 3.4%.

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Amots Hetzroni, Denys J. Charles, Jules Janick, and James E. Simon

A prototype of a nondestructive electronic sensory system (electronic sniffer) that responds to volatile gases emitted by fruit during ripening was developed. The electronic sniffer is based upon four semiconductor gas sensors designed to react with a range of reductive gases, including aromatic volatiles. In 1994, we examined the potential of using the electronic sniffer as a tool to nondestructively determine ripeness in `Golden Delicious' and `Goldrush' apples. Fruit were harvested weekly from 19 Sept. to 17 Oct. (`Golden Delicious') and 27 Sept. to 18 Nov. (`Goldrush'). Each week, apples of each cultivar were evaluated individually for skin color, weight size, and headspace volatiles. Each fruit was then evaluated by the electronic sniffer, and headspace ethylene was sampled from air within the testing box. Individual fruits were then evaluated for total soluble solids, firmness, pH, total acidity, and starch index value. The electronic sniffer was able to distinguish and accurately classify the apples into three ripeness stages (immature, ripe, and over-ripe). Improved results were obtained when multiple gas sensors were used rather than a single gas sensor.

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Ernst Cebert, Denys J. Charles, and James E. Simon

Artemisia annua L. is an aromatic and medicinal plant of importance for its volatile essential oils, and the non-volatile artemisinin used in the treatment of malaria. To determine the optimum time of planting for growth and the accumulation of essential oils, seedlings of A. annua (Purdue accession 012) were transplanted into the field in Central Indiana in a RBD with 3 replications on April 25, May 24, June 24, and July 25, 1988. Plant samples were harvested every 2 weeks until first frost.

The April and May transplanting dates produced the tallest plants (>180 cm) while the May transplants accumulated the greatest fresh and dry weights. The average increase in plant height was greatest for the June 24 planting date at 9.8 cm per week. Regardless of planting date, all plants began to flower by early August and growth rate began to decrease by late August. Accumulation of essential oil (as rel. % dry wt.) was similar for all planting dates. Essential oil increased until floral initiation, then decreased for 2 weeks after which there was a rapid increase in oil accumulation. Maximum oil accumulation from all planting dates was reached on Sept. 28 after which growth continued to increase.

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Roberto F. Vieira, Peter Goldsbrough, and James E. Simon

Molecular markers were used to assess genetic diversity in basil (Ocimum L. spp., Lamiaceae). Using randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis, 11 primers generated 98 polymorphic bands, ranging from 300 to 2,000 base pairs, that discriminated among 37 accessions across nine Ocimum spp. Means of genetic similarities within Ocimum spp. showed that the domesticated species, O. minimum L. (0.887), O. basilicum L. (0.769), and O. ×citriodorum Vis. (0.711) had highest similarity indices within species, while the nondomesticated, O. americanum L. (0.580), O. gratissimum L. (0.408), and O. kilimandscharicum Guerke (0.559) showed the lowest similarity. RAPD results indicated that O. minimum should not be considered a distinct species but rather a variety of O. basilicum. Consistent clusters among all but one of the O. ×citriodorum spp., all containing citral as the major constituent, were identified using bootstrap analysis. RAPD analysis was useful in discriminating among Ocimum spp., although within species resolution will require a higher number of polymorphic bands.

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Jorge F.S. Ferreira, James E. Simon, and Jules Janick

Artemisinin (qinghaosu), an endoperoxide sesquiterpene lactone with antimalarial activity and little human toxicity, is produced in A. annua L., a short-day plant with the critical photoperiod of 13.5 h. Artemisinin peaks at full flowering when it is 11 times higher in inflorescences than in leaves. Supplementation of MS medium with BA, kinetin, CCC, or daminozide decreased content in shoot cultures as compared to the control, with the exception of CCC at 6.3 μM. Artemisinin content (percent dry weight) in this experiment did not correlate with shoot number (r = –0.198) but was highly correlated (r = 0.775**) with root number, indicating that although roots do not produce artemisinin, they may be involved in its synthesis. Maximum artemisinin was produced in hormone-free medium. Friable calli were obtained with a combination of BA (4.4 μM) and 2,4-D (4.5 μM), but artemisinin was absent from calli, cells, and cell culture media. Biseriate glandular trichomes are present in leaves and flowers from the earliest developmental stages. Artemisinin was extracted by a 1-min dip in organic solvents from flowers and leaves, indicating that the biseriate glandular trichomes of A. annua are the probable site of accumulation or sequestration of artemisinin.

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Denys J. Charles, Amots Hetzroni, and James E. Simon

Recent developments in electronic odor-sensing technology has opened the opportunity for non-destructive, rapid, and objective assessment of food quality. We have developed an electronic sensor (electronic sniffer) that measures aromatic volatiles that are naturally emitted by fruits and fruit products. The ability of our sniffer to detect contamination in fruit juice was tested using tomato juice as a model system. Tomato juice was extracted from cultivar Rutgers and divided into eight glass jars of 300 g juice each. The jars were divided into two treatments: the control jars contained tomato juice mixed with 0.15% sorbic acid to suppress microbial growth, and the experimental jars contained only tomato juice. All the jars were placed open, on a counter top in the laboratory for 8 days. The juice was tested daily with the electronic sniffer and for pH. The total volatiles in the headspace of the juice was extracted on alternating days via dynamic headspace method using charcoal traps, analyzed by gas chromatography, and confirmed by GC/mass spectometry. The results indicate that the sniffer is able to detect differences between the two treatments 4 days after the tomato juice was exposed to ambient atmosphere. The electronic sniffer output for the control juice showed a monotonous decline, while the output for the experimental juice exhibited a sharp incline after day four. This sensor output correlated well with the total volatiles.