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I.L. Goldman

The effects of population density on shape and size of cylindrical red beet genotypes were evaluated in a field experiment during 1994 and 1995. Two F1 hybrids and two open-pollinated genotypes were planted in replicated trials consisting of three population densities. Yield, harvest weight, percent harvestable beets per plot, length, middle width, top width, bottom width, length × width, length to width ratio, and a shape index (SI) were measured on a sample of beet plants from each plot. The density × genotype interaction was nonsignificant for all 10 traits. Averaged over genotypes, significant differences among densities were found for harvest weight, percent harvestable beets per plot, length, middle width, and length × width. In general, greater harvest weights, a higher percentage of harvestable beets, and greater length, middle width, and length × width values were found at low density. Averaged over densities, significant differences among genotypes were measured for all 10 traits. The open-pollinated genotypes Cyndor and Cylindra exhibited lower yield, lower harvest weight, greater SI, and a higher percentage of harvestable beets than their hybrid counterparts. These data demonstrate that population density has a differential and significant effect on the shape and size of cylindrical beet genotypes.

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I.L. Goldman

Plant breeding is a process that is difficult to compress into laboratory exercises for the classroom. At the heart of plant breeding is the act of selection, a process whereby differential reproduction and survival leads to changes in gene frequency. Given the relatively short span of an academic semester, it has been difficult for students to gain experience with the practice of selection using plant materials. Nearly 15 years ago, P.H. Williams developed Wisconsin Fast Plants, a model system for teaching plant biology in a classroom setting. Wisconsin fast plants are rapid-cycling versions of various Brassica species amenable to a variety of genetic studies due to their short life cycle and ease of handling. This paper describes the development of a model system using Brassica rapa L. fast plants for teaching the cyclical selection process known as recurrent selection in the context of a course on plant breeding. The system allows for up to three cycles of recurrent selection during a single 15-week semester and enables students to gain experience in planting, selection, pollination, and seed harvest during each cycle. With appropriate trait choice, phenotypic changes resulting from selection can be visualized after just three cycles. Using the Fast Plant model, recurrent selection can be practiced successfully by students in the classroom.

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I.L. Goldman

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I.L. Goldman

Much of the medicinal activity induced by vegetable Alliums is derived from a suite of organosulfur compounds formed following hydrolysis of the S-alk(en)yl-l-cysteine sulfoxides (ACSOs). One of these medicinal activities is the inhibition of blood platelet aggregation; a factor that may influence cardiovascular health. Concentrations of ACSOs in the onion bulb ebb-and-fl ow during the vegetative phase, suggesting they act as storage forms of sulfur. To examine whether medicinal efficacy paralleled these changes, I tracked bulb, leaf, and inflorescence-induced antiplatelet activity during reproductive growth of four onion genotypes. Levels of bulb-induced antiplatelet activity dropped sharply for the first 8 weeks following the end of vernalization. Leaf-induced antiplatelet activity also dropped rapidly for the first 4 weeks, but rose precipitously by week 6. The rapid loss in leaf-induced antiplatelet efficacy between week 6 and week 8 suggests a recycling of these organosulfur compounds from the leaves to the developing flower stalk and inflorescence, which would be needed for protection against insect pests. Overall, I found a dramatic decrease in bulb-induced antiplatelet activity concomitant with an initially similar decrease and subsequent increase in leaf-induced antiplatelet activity. These were complemented by the presence of high levels of antiplatelet activity induced by the inflorescence. These data indicate development mediates the medicinal activity induced by onion plants. Furthermore, the flux of antiplatelet activity induced by various plant organs suggests that this medicinal trait is serendipitously associated with the storage and cycling of sulfur in onion plants; perhaps in response to insect predation.

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I.L. Goldman

Plants are the foundation for a significant part of human medicine and for many of the most widely used drugs designed to prevent, treat, and cure disease. Folkloric information concerning traditional remedies for disease has had inestimable value in establishing familial and cultural linkages. During the 20th century, modern medical science in the U.S. and other developed countries ushered in a new era focused on synthetic medicines. Even though many of these compounds were based on natural compounds found in plants, the drive towards synthetic pharmaceuticals created a knowledge gap concerning the health functionality of plants, crops, and food. Paralleling this development, biochemists and nutritional scientists pioneered the discovery of vitamins during the early decades of the 20th century. This research paved the way for dietary guidelines based on empirical data collected from animal feeding trials and set the stage for the current emphasis on phytonutrients. Three primary stages characterize the use of fruits and vegetable in human health. The first stage concerns the observation that many fruit and vegetable crops were originally domesticated for their medicinal properties. Making their way into the diet for this purpose, fruit and vegetable crops remained on the fringe from a culinary point of view. The second stage began when the role of vitamins became more widely understood, and fruit and vegetable plants were quickly recognized as a rich source of certain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. At this point, they became more than just an afterthought in the diet of most U.S. citizens. Cartoon icons such as Popeye made the case for the health functionality of leafy greens, while parents schooled their children on the virtues of carrots (Daucus carota), broccoli (Brassica oleracea), and green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). This renaissance resulted in large increases in fresh fruit and vegetable consumption across the country, a trend that continues to this day. The third phase can be characterized by the recognition that fruit and vegetable crops contain compounds that have the potential to influence health beyond nutritional value. These so-called functional foods figure prominently in the dietary recommendations developed during the last decades of the 20th century. In recent years, surveys suggest nearly two-thirds of grocery shoppers purchase food specifically to reduce the risk of, or manage a specific health condition. Evidence abounds that consumers, including Baby Boomers, choose foods for specific health benefits, such as the antioxidant potential of vegetables, suggesting high levels of nutritional literacy. Clinical and in vitro data have, to some degree, supported the claims that certain foods have the potential to deter disease, however much research remains to be conducted in order to definitively answer specific dietary-based questions about food and health.

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I.L. Goldman

The use of cylindrically shaped red beet cultivars for production of processing beets has increased in recent years. Yield and shape of globe-shaped red beet cultivars are determined in part by population density and within-row spacing; thus, it is thought cylindrical cultivars are similarly affected by these factors. The objective of this investigation was to evaluate the effects of population density on shape and size of cylindrical red beet cultivars. Two F1 hybrids and two open-pollinated cultivars were planted in replicated trials consisting of three population densities during 1993 and 1994. Ten traits were measured on a randomly selected sample of beets from each plot. Averaged over genotypes, significant differences among densities were found for percent harvestable beets per plot, length × width, harvest weight, length, and mid-width. Average over genotypes, greater harvest weight, higher percentage of harvestable beets, and greater length, mid-width, and length × width values were found at low density. Average over densities, open-pollinated cultivars exhibited a greater degree of straightness along with lower yield, harvest weight, and percent harvestable beets than their hybrid counterparts. These data demonstrate population density has a differential effect on shape and size of cylindrical beet genotypes.