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  • Author or Editor: Ellen Yerger x
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Biochemical and morphological components of 16 Pelargonium species and the P. ×hortorum interspecific complex were examined. Inflorescences and leaves of each species were analyzed for anacardic acids and the presence of glandular trichomes. Three species of the section Ciconium, P. acetosum, P. frutetorum, and P. inquinans, produced anacardic acids in association with glandular trichomes. only P. inquinans and P. frutetorum contained ω5- anacardic acids. An evolutionary model for the origin of anacardic acids and ω5- desaturation is proposed.

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Composition of anacardic acids (phenolic acids known to be associated with small pest resistance in Pelargonium ×hortorum) was examined in 13 diploid and 25 tetraploid cultivars by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The presence of an unusual desaturation (omega (ω)-5) in the alkyl tail of anacardic acids present only in glandular trichome exudate of pest-resistant diploid inbred lines had previously been associated with a sticky-trap pest-resistance phenomenon. In this study, we examine Pelargonium cultivars for variability in anacardic acid composition to assess the distribution of ω5 desaturation among commercial cultivars, to determine possible interactions between ω5 desaturation and other plant desaturation mechanisms, and to examine the possible impact of ploidy on ω5 desaturation. An unsaturation index (UI) is derived to compare exudates differing widely in composition yet which may provide a similarly effective sticky-trap pest-resistance mechanism based on exudate viscosity. ω-5 Anacardic acids were observed in the glandular trichome exudate of all 38 commercial cultivars examined. No diploid cultivar produced ω5- and ω9- anacardic acids, although the simultaneous production of ω5 and ω9- anacardic acids was observed in three tetraploid cultivars. Total ω5- anacardic acids comprised from 42.4% (tetraploid cultivar Perlenkette-syn. Snowhite, Weiss) to 86.8% (tetraploid cultivar Amanda). Commercial P. ×domesticum cultivars had no ω5 anacardic acids. UIs ranged from 60.9 (tetraploid cultivar Dixieland) to 103.4 (diploid cultivar Pinto White). In contrast, anacardic acids collected from a pest-susceptible inbred line contained no ω5- anacardic acids and had a UI of 38.7. No significant differences among ploidy levels were observed for UIs or for most specific anacardic acid components, with the exception of 24:1 ω5- anacardic acid, in which the mean diploid value (32.1%) was significantly higher than that of the mean tetraploid value (27.6%). We conclude that ω5- anacardic acid production occurs in all Pelargonium cultivars observed and that these cultivars are predicted to exhibit resistance to small arthropod pests. Significant genetic variability in specific anacardic acid composition appears to exist among Pelargonium cultivars, suggesting that breeding for pest resistance can be readily monitored by HPLC of anacardic acids.

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