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Lynn Maher and Irwin L. Goldman

The earthy flavor of table beet is due to an aromatic terpene derivative called geosmin. It has been hypothesized that geosmin presence in beet is due to geosmin-producing bacteria such as Streptomyces spp. that exist in the soil. However, recent findings suggest that beet may produce geosmin endogenously without microbial influence. The purpose of this study was to determine whether such endogenous production of geosmin occurred in beet by making use of an aseptic tissue culture (TC) environment to remove potential microbial influences on geosmin production. Four table beet accessions (‘Bull’s Blood’, ‘Touchstone Gold’, ‘W364B’, and ‘Pacemaker III’) were grown in three separate TC experiments and in the greenhouse and measured for geosmin concentration via gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Sequencing of 16S ribosomal RNA was used to identify potential microbial contaminants in TC. Operational taxa units (OTUs) classification resulted in RNA sequences with homology to bacterial RNA of either chloroplast (98%) or mitochondria (2%) origin. Other OTUs identified were considered within the range of sequencing error. In 15 of the 16 TC–grown samples used for the 16S rRNA aseptic validation and in all the greenhouse-grown plant samples, geosmin was detected. Geosmin concentrations from bulked beet tissue of each accession were higher in the TC environment than the greenhouse environment. The lack of microbial detection in the TC environment and the subsequent identification of geosmin from beets grown in the aseptic environment is a strong indication that geosmin is produced endogenously by beets. This finding raises several interesting questions about the functional significance of this molecule for Beta vulgaris.

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Min Wang and Irwin L. Goldman

Genetic relationships among 37 accessions of Beta vulgaris, including 21 table beet, 14 sugar beet, and two Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris ssp. cicla) accessions, were evaluated using randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD). Genetic distance was estimated based on the presence or absence of polymorphic RAPD bands. Multidimensional scaling plots of genetic distance values revealed that table beet inbred lines from the University of Wisconsin Table beet Breeding Program clustered in an intermediate position between sugar beet breeding lines and standard table beet germplasm, likely because of their origin from an introgression program designed to incorporate sugar beet genes.

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Jules Janick and Irwin L. Goldman

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Veronica L. Gaertner and Irwin L. Goldman

Half-sib recurrent selection programs were initiated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1978 and 1995 to increase betalain (betacyanin and betaxanthin) concentration in red and yellow table beets (Beta vulgaris L. ssp. vulgaris), respectively. Cycles of selection from both the red and yellow table beet breeding programs were evaluated for pigment and total dissolved solids (TDS) distribution in five tissue sections (outer, middle and center zones of the root; leaf and petiole) in two environments (early and late planting) during 2002. Betaxanthin concentration increased with the later planting date in the majority of the tissue zones in the yellow and red table beet populations. Absolute pigment concentration of the outer root zone increased the most over cycles of selection: 46.6 mg/100 g fresh weight (FW) betaxanthin and 201 mg/100 g FW betacyanin for yellow and red populations, respectively. However, the greatest rate of gain was in the center and middle tissue zones. Selection based on the outer 2 cm of root tissue has effectively increased pigmentation of the entire beet plant. A correlated response to selection in leaf and petiole tissue was measured for pigment concentration in both populations. The contribution of each tissue zone to total pigment concentration of the beet plant remained constant throughout cycles of selection averaging 39%, 25%, 25%, 6%, and 5% for outer, middle, center, petiole and leaf tissue zones, respectively. Across all table beet populations, pigment concentration of the outer root zone was 55% and 62% higher than middle and center zones, respectively. TDS of the outer root zone was 10% and 12% higher than middle and center zones, respectively.

Open access

Katharina S. Wigg and Irwin L. Goldman

Table beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) is adversely affected by the soilborne fungus, Rhizoctonia solani, which greatly decreases root quality. There are no reports of breeding efforts designed to improve resistance to this fungus in table beet. A collection of table beet PIs, cultivars, and publicly available inbreds were characterized for their response to inoculation with R. solani in three replicated greenhouse experiments conducted between 2017 and 2019. An isolate of AG 2-2 IIIB was used to inoculate 8-week old plants, and both susceptible and resistant sugar beet genotypes were used for comparison. Plants were evaluated for internal and external disease characteristics 3 and 5 weeks postinoculation. Compared with uninoculated controls, PI accessions ranged from 2% to 44% infection, whereas cultivars and inbred lines ranged from 16% to 53% and 22% to 52%, respectively. No commercial cultivar outperformed the resistant sugar beet genotype; however, several PI accessions exhibited lower mean diseased tissue percentages than the resistant sugar beet. This suggests that resistance to R. solani may exist in table beet germplasm. PI accessions exhibited greater resistance on average than did cultivars. Inbred lines exhibited the least amount of variation. Ordinal regression allowed for prediction of infection response, which may be helpful in future selection efforts. ‘Badger Flame’, Ames 22164, PI 502294, PI 169015, ‘Long Season’, ‘Red Cloud’, and ‘Albina Vereduna’ were some of the most resistant accessions in our screens. The findings from this study can be used to inform decisions for breeding for host plant resistance in table beet.

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Christopher J. D’Angelo and Irwin L. Goldman

Vernalization is an important step for floral initiation in onion (Allium cepa), but our understanding of the minimum vernalization time for long-day storage onions to gain floral competence is limited. A series of time course experiments were conducted over 4 years to determine the effects of vernalization time on sprouting, scape emergence, and flowering in ‘Cortland’, ‘Sherman’, and CUDH2107. We found an endodormancy period is present in the bulbs of these cultivars that lasts for 8 to 10 weeks. In addition, these three accessions achieve optimum uniform scape emergence after chilling for 14 weeks at 10 °C. On average, when bulbs were chilled for 14 weeks, it took 96.8 ± 15.6 days from planting to flowering in all accessions evaluated. As storage duration under vernalizing temperatures increases, the time to sprouting, scape emergence, and flowering decrease. Furthermore, the variance in time from sprouting to scape emergence was greatly reduced between 10 and 12 weeks of storage for ‘Cortland’ and CUDH2107, and between 12 and 14 weeks for ‘Sherman’. After 10 weeks of chilling, each additional week of storage resulted in an average decrease in time to flowering of 4.1%. We also observed large percentages of bulbs flowering without receiving any vernalization. This observation supports our finding that the relationship between vernalization and flowering in long-day storage onion is facultative rather than obligate. These findings help define the relationship between dormancy, vernalization, and flowering in long-day storage onion.

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Thomas C. Koch* and Irwin L. Goldman

Carotenoids (provitamin A) and tocopherols (vitamin E) are powerful antioxidants in plants and in the human diet. Carrot (Daucus carota) has been selected for increased levels of carotenoids, contributing to its orange color and reported health benefits. Selection for increased tocopherol has shown success in seed oils, but little progress has been made in the edible portions of most vegetable crops. HPLC measurement following a simultaneous heptane extraction of both compounds has shown a significant (P ≤ 0.001) positive correlation of α-tocopherol with α-carotene (r = 0.65) and β-carotene (r = 0.52). To increase both the tocopherols and carotenoids in plants, 3 populations have been established from select open-pollinated varieties grown in 2002. These populations consist of half-sib families with these differing selection schemes: based strictly on increased α-tocopherol levels; an index to increase α-carotene, β-carotene and α-tocopherol; and a random population in which no selection is occurring. After one cycle of selection, populations were grown on muck soil during the summer of 2003. Compared with the random population, an increase of 24.68% in α-tocopherol concentration was recorded for the population selected strictly on α-tocopherol while increases of 8.47% in α-tocopherol, 9.31% in α-carotene and 7.31% in β-carotene were recorded for the population with index selection. The continuation of these carrot populations shows promise to produce carrot germplasm with improved human nutritive value.