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  • Author or Editor: Dennis E. Rowe x
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Nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) were believed to be important nutrient management tools for the production of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L. ‘German’) with desirable oil content and composition and acceptable herbage yields. A multilocation research study was initiated to evaluate the effect of N (0, 60, 120, and 180 kg·ha−1 N) and S (0, 20, 40, and 80 kg·ha−1 S) rates on biomass production, oil content, and oil composition for sweet basil. The three locations in Mississippi (Stoneville, Poplarville, and Verona) were selected based on soil type, geographic, and climatic variation. Location, N rate, and their interaction were significant on basil dry herbage yields. The herbage yield means were 4967 kg·ha−1, 2907 kg·ha−1, and 2122 kg·ha−1 for Poplarville, Verona, and Stoneville, respectively. Oil content was significantly affected by location with means of 0.69%, 0.80%, and 0.64% for Stoneville, Poplarville, and Verona, respectively. Location, N, and S had significant effects on oil yields with means of 14.7, 38.7, and 18.5 kg·ha−1 for Stoneville, Poplarville, and Verona, respectively. The significant quadratic response of essential oil yields to N fertilization rates showed oil yields were maximized for fertilization between 50 and 60 kg·ha−1 N. In contrast, the response to S fertilization appeared to continue to increase beyond the maximum fertilization rate evaluated of 80 kg·ha−1 S. Location and N application rates had a significant effect on the yields of the major basil oil constituents (–)-linalool, eugenol, (–)-bornyl acetate, and eucalyptol, whereas S had a significant effect on eucalyptol yield only. Eucalyptol concentration was positively correlated to the concentration of (–)-bornyl acetate. This is the first study to quantify (in real concentration) the response of the major sweet basil oil constituents (–)-linalool, eugenol, (–)-bornyl acetate, and eucalyptol as a function of N and S application rates. Also, it is the first study to demonstrate a strong response of basil oil yield to S. The results from this study demonstrated that N and S applications can be used as management tools with respect to sweet basil production, oil content, and oil composition.

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Podophyllotoxin is an anticancer compound found in Indian mayapple (Podophyllum emodii Wall.), American mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum L.), and other species. Podophyllotoxin and its derivatives are used in several commercially available pharmaceutical products such as the anticancer drugs etoposide, teniposide, and etopophos. Currently, the commercial production of podophyllotoxin is based on Indian mayapple. The objective of this study was to estimate podophyllotoxin concentration in American mayapple across its natural habitats in the eastern United States and to identify high podophyllotoxin types that could be used for further selection and cultivar development. Analyses of American mayapple leaves collected from 37 mayapple colonies across 18 states indicated a significant variation in podophyllotoxin, α-peltatin, and β-peltatin content and the presence of chemotypes. Overall, the concentrations of podophyllotoxin, α-peltatin, and β-peltatin in the collected accessions ranged from below detectable levels to 45.1, 47.3, and 7.0 mg·g−1 dry weight, respectively. We classified American mayapple accessions into seven groups: 1) with very high concentration of podophyllotoxin (greater than 20 mg·g−1) and no α- or β-peltatin; 2) high podophyllotoxin (greater than 10 mg·g−1) and no α-peltatin but trace amounts of β−peltatin; 3) medium podophyllotoxin (1 to 10 mg·g−1) and no α- or β-peltatin; 4) low podophyllotoxin (0.05 to 1 mg·g−1) and high α-peltatin; 5) trace amounts of podophyllotoxin and high concentration of α-peltatin and α-peltatin; 6) high α-peltatin and trace amounts of podophyllotoxin or β−peltatin; and 7) high α−peltatin and no podophyllotoxin or β-peltatin. American mayapple was found to grow on various soil types with a range of pH (4.6 to 7.6) and dissimilar concentrations of phytoavailable soil nutrients. Tissue zinc concentration was positively correlated to podophyllotoxin, whereas soil and tissue phosphorus was positively correlated to the concentration of α-peltatin. The results from this study may contribute toward the development of high podophyllotoxin-containing varieties of American mayapple and the development of a new cash crop for American farmers.

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