A six-parent diallel which included carrot inbreds with a range of carotene content from 80 to 490 ppm was evaluated over 2 years. General combining ability accounted for most of the variation observed. Phenotypic mass selection was exercised for high carotene content in three carrot populations. Response to selection continued to be high in one population, HCM, after 11 cycles of selection. In contrast, after three generations of selection, little progress was able to be made in a population derived from primarily Nantes-type open-pollinated cultivars. Realized heritability estimates varied from 15% to 49%. Environment contributed significantly to variation in carotene content.
Philipp W. Simon
Central Asia is the center of origin for many Allium species and a rich genetic source of wild relatives of onion and garlic. For this reason germplasm collections of cultivated Alliums have targeted the acquisition of seed and bulb samples from this region, and several plant expeditions from Asia, Europe, and North America have collected Allium germplasm in Central Asia. Central Asian Allium germplasm has been valuable both as raw materials for scientific research leading to published data, and as starting materials for genetic improvement of the crop. Utilizing this germplasm it has been possible to improve garlic so it can be bred like other seed-propagated crops. Several interspecific crosses have been made between onion and other Central Asian wild relatives and these crosses have yielded useful traits for onion improvement. Allium germplasm from this region has also been important in elucidating the systematics and origins of diversity in onion and garlic. By any of these measures, Central Asian Allium collections have been valuable. Challenges and successes in collecting, maintaining, evaluating, and using these collections remain.
Philipp W. Simon
Genetic improvement of carrot, onion, and garlic has depended upon introgression of alleles from foreign cultivars, from wild forms of cultivated species, and from wild species. Introgression of Asian germplasm in European carrots has resulted in more than a doubling of carotene content; wild carrot has provided two of the most widely used male-sterile cytoplasms for production of hybrids; and Daucus capillifolius has been used as a source of resistance to carrot fly. Onion male-sterile cytoplasm used for hybrid production has its origins in a species related to onion, while resistance to several diseases originated in foreign cultivars. Production of true garlic seed has depended on a broad germplasm base for its success. More examples and germplasm utilization strategies will be discussed.
Vivek Sampath and Philipp Simon
Studies of genetic variation at the DNA level in the genus Daucus have been very limited. Molecular markers based on restriction fragment length polymorphism (RPLP) have been shown to be highly useful and efficient gene markers in other plant species.
We have used a total of 20 carrot types (inbreds, varieties, species) for this study. Genomic DNA probes cloned in pGEM (Promega) plasmid of Escherichia coli were hybridized to DNA of these types digested with EcoRI and HindIII restriction enzymes. Based on 50 probe-enzyme combinations we have found RFLP variation to be extensive in Daucus, even among related cultivated genetic stocks. The implications of these results in the germplasm diversity in Daucus will be discussed.
Also, a genetic linkage map of carrot will be constructed. The map will be used to determine the genomic regions conditioning traits like root and core diameter, root length, and nematode resistance.
Philipp W. Simon
Four carrot populations with low total sugar/low reducing sugar concentration, low total sugar/high reducing sugar concentration, high total sugar/low reducing sugar concentration, and high total sugar/high reducing sugar concentration were compared for pH 4.5 invertase, pH 7.5 invertase, sucrose synthase, and sucrose phosphate synthase activity. Invertase activities correlated well with reducing sugar concentration. Sucrose synthase and sucrose phosphate synthase activities were low in all populations. Total sugar level was not well-correlated with the activity of any enzyme measured. Developmental analysis indicated some reduction in enzyme activity as roots grew.
Vivek Sampath and Philipp Simon
Studies of genetic variation at the DNA level in the genus Dacus have been very limited. Molecular markers based on restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) have been highly useful and efficient gene markers in other plant species. We have evaluated the chloroplast genome of 19 Dacus species and inbreds cut with 10 restriction enzymes and probed with 14 petunia chloroplast clones. A phylogenetic tree generated to date shows three major groupings of these accessions as seen with data generated by an earlier study using nuclear RFLPs. However, D. glochidiatus and D. guttatus are in different groups. Details of the chloroplast study will be discussed. Also, a genetic linkage map of carrot will be constructed. The map will be used to determine the genomic regions conditioning traits such as pigmentation root and core diameter, and root length.
Adam Bolton and Philipp Simon
Global carrot production is limited by the crop’s high susceptibility to salinity stress. Not much public research has been conducted to screen for genetic salinity stress tolerance in carrot, and few resources exist to aid plant breeders in improving salinity tolerance in carrot. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the response of diverse carrot germplasm to salinity stress, identify salt-tolerant carrot germplasm that may be used by breeders, and define appropriate screening criteria for assessing salt tolerance in germinating carrot seed. Carrot plant introductions (PIs) (n = 273) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Plant Germplasm System representing 41 different countries, inbred lines from the USDA Agricultural Research Service (n = 16), and widely grown commercial hybrids (n = 5) were screened for salinity tolerance under salinity stress and nonstress conditions (150 and 0 mm NaCl, respectively) by measuring the absolute decrease (AD) in the percent of germination, inhibition index (II), relative salt tolerance (RST), and salt tolerance index (STI) of germinating seeds. All salt tolerance measurements differed significantly between accessions; AD ranged from −4.2% to 93.0%; II ranged from −8.0% to 100.0%; RST ranged from 0.0 to 1.08; and STI ranged from 0.0 to 1.38. Broad sense heritability calculations for these measurements were 0.87 or more, indicating a strong genetic contribution to the variation observed. Six accessions identified as salt-tolerant or salt-susceptible were evaluated in a subsequent experiment conducted at salt concentrations of 0, 50, 100, 150, 200, and 250 mm NaCl. Variations between mean AD, II, RST, and STI of tolerant and susceptible lines were greatest at 150 mm NaCl, validating the use of 150 mm NaCl concentrations during salt tolerance screening of carrot seed. Wild carrot accessions displayed little tolerance, and PI 256066, PI 652253, PI 652402, and PI 652405 from Turkey were most salt-tolerant.
Philipp W. Simon
Diet is implicated globally in the cause and severity of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, and a large body of medical evidence indicates that consumption of healthier foods can alleviate both the incidence and severity of not only these diseases, but also obesity, which is a causal factor for many chronic diseases. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans indicated that several nutrients are underconsumed in the United States, including folate, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K. Vegetables and fruits are major sources of several of these micronutrients and minerals as well as many other phytonutrients. Despite these health benefits, vegetable and fruit intake by U.S. consumers is significantly lower than recommended by dietary guidelines (less than 40% of recommended intake) and has not risen in the past decade. Collaborations between horticultural plant breeders, production and postharvest scientists with food scientists, nutritionists, medical scientists, marketing specialists, and social scientists are needed to develop plans and take action to stimulate increased vegetable and fruit intake. Increased intake may have a positive impact not only on the health of consumers, but would also increase the economic value of horticultural commodities and raise the profile of horticultural sciences. Horticultural approaches to address this important challenge, and opportunity, must be developed.