Investigating the chemical constituents that determine human preferences for cooked vegetable flavor and aroma is complicated by experimental limitations. Several to many biochemicals interact with each other and with textural properties to influence perception of eating quality. This is particularly true for volatile compounds associated with aroma, where differences in concentration, volatility, reactivity, chemical stability, thresholds of perception, and duration of receptor bonding generate transient stimuli that are integrated into the sensory evaluation of quality. This paper describes methodology that can isolate, identify, and quantify the effect of chemical constituents that influence flavor and aroma using populations segregating for genes controlling eating quality. A F2:3 population derived from a cross between two sweet corn inbreds that differed in kernel characteristics associated with eating quality were assayed for variation in chemical, physical, and sensory characteristics. Because most aromatic constituents of sweet corn are generated during cooking, kernel tissue samples were autoclaved and analyzed by gas chromatography. Panel variation in sample preference were found to be controlled by three overlying factors—taste, texture, and aroma—the relative importance of each being 45.1%, 30.5%, and 24.4%, respectively. DNA marker technology was employed to generate a linkage map of this population that was sufficiently saturated with probes to allow for the identification and mapping of genes controlling each characteristic. This information improves selection methodology in a breeding program aimed to develop germplasm with superior eating quality.
John A. Juvik
Extensive epidemiological evidence suggests that carotenoids (including vitamin A), ascorbate (vitamin C), tocols (including vitamin E), and glucosinolate breakdown products exert anticarcinogenic effects in a range of human tissues. Consumption of fresh and processed vegetables with enhanced levels of these phytochemicals could reduce human risk of cancer. The vitamins play a major role as antioxidants, offering protection against cancer by preventing or reversing oxidative damage to DNA and other cellular components. Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates (GSs), which, during mastication, are hydrolyzed by the enzyme myrosinase into bioactive breakdown products (BBPs), including sulforaphane. BBPs appear to induce synthesis of drug metabolism enzymes resulting in increased detoxification rates of carcinogens. This paper describes an interdisciplinary investigation designed to develop vegetable cultivars that offer chemoprotection from cancer at doses commensurate with a normal American diet. Initial work has focused on surveying sweet corn and Brassicae oleraceae germplasm for variation in vitamin and glucosinolate content in conjunction with in vitro and in vivo bioassays to determine which compounds and concentrations optimize chemoprotectant activity. Segregating populations from crosses between sweet corn and Brassica lines that vary in vitamin and GS concentrations will be assayed for chemical content and chemoprotectant activity, and genetically characterized using DNA marker technology to identify and map genes controlling these traits. This information will improve selection methodology in a breeding program aimed to develop brassica and sweet corn germplasm with enhanced cancer chemoprevention.
Khalid Ibrahim and John Juvik
Vegetables are a rich source of dietary carotenoids and tocopherols, powerful antioxidants that have the capacity to protect cells against oxidative damage caused by free radical reactions. There is evidence for a negative correlation between the incidence of certain types of cancer, age-related macular degeneration, cataract development, and cardiovascular disease with increased carotenoid and tocopherol intake. Development of elite vegetable germplasm with enhanced levels of these phytochemicals will potentially promote health among the consuming public. To assess the feasibility for genetic improvement in phytochemical content, it is necessary to partition the phenotypic variability into its component sources (genotype, environment, and genotype by environment interaction). To provide data for comparison and partition of phenotypic variation, 41 sweet corn and 13 broccoli genotypes were grown and harvested in one location for 3 years and analyzed for phytochemical content by HPLC. The most abundant form of carotenoids and tocopherols were lutein and gamma-tocopherol in sweet corn and beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol in broccoli. Analysis of variance showed that, in sweet corn, the differences among genotypes described most of the phenotypic variation (76% for lutein, and 78% for gamma-tocopherol). Genotype by year interaction was a second significant factor, while variation affiliated with the year was found to be a minor component. In contrast, in broccoli, the three sources of variability contributed equally to describe the total phenotypic variation for beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol. These results suggest that elite sweet corn and broccoli germplasm with improved carotenoid and tocopherol levels can be developed using conventional breeding protocols.
John A. Juvik
Heliothis zea (Boddle) is one of agriculture's worst insect pests. Reduction in crop productivity and costs for insecticidal control of this cosmopolitan pest cost U.S. agriculture many millions of dollars annually. The sesquiterpenes (+)-E-å-santalen-12-oic and (+)-E- endo- β–bergamoten-12-oic acids isolated from hexane leaf extracts of the wild tomato species, Lycopersicon hirsutum, have been shown to attract and stimulate oviposition by female H. zea. Extracts from other host plants (tobacco, corn, and cotton) also possess attractant/oviposition stimulant activity to female H. zea. Studies are underway to assess the potential use of these and other phytochemicals for the control or monitoring of population levels of H. zea in tomato, corn and cotton fields.
The isolation and structural identification of insect pest oviposition stimulants in horticultural crop species can provide valuable information to plant breeders involved in developing cultivars with improved insect host plant resistance. This information could be used to develop cultivars lacking the chemical cues used by insects for host plant location and recognition. Risks of public exposure to toxic insecticides through consumption of agricultural produce and polluted ground water emphasize the critical need for the development of crop genotypes with improved best plant resistance as a supplementary method of insect pest management in agricultural ecosystems.
John A. Juvik
Hyoung Seok Kim and John A. Juvik
Broccoli (Brassica oleracea ssp. italica) is a rich source of glucosinolates (GSs), phytochemicals that are hydrolyzed into isothiocyanates with known human anticarcinogenic bioactivity. Increasing dietary intake of the element selenium (Se) can also reduce the risk of cancer. Previous research reported that Se fertilization at high concentrations reduces the concentration of GSs in brassicaceous plants. This research was conducted to determine the effect of Se fertilization on accumulation of different types of GSs in broccoli floret tissues in five genotypes. Methyl jasmonate (MeJA), an elicitor known to stimulate biosynthesis of indolyl GSs, was used to analyze changes in biosynthetic capability of indolyl GSs in broccoli floret tissue under Se-enriched conditions. Five broccoli genotypes were subjected to root fertilization with low and high levels of Na2SeO4 solutions (0.17 and 5.2 mm), MeJA sprays to aerial portions of the plants (250 μM), and the combined treatment of 5.2 mm Se with 250 μM MeJA, respectively. The effect of Se fertilization on GS accumulation varied among genotypes and the level of Se fertilization. Variation in the level of Se fertilization resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in glucoraphanin concentrations with no significant effect on indolyl GS accumulation in broccoli florets across the five genotypes. MeJA treatment increased indolyl and aromatic GS accumulation in floret tissues. MeJA-mediated increases in these GSs were inhibited in the high Se fertilization treatment, but the increase in neoglucobrassicin concentrations was less affected than other GSs in florets across the five genotypes. An experiment conducted with 6-week-old broccoli plants under the high Se treatment demonstrated greater accumulation of Se with depressed accumulation of sulfur and complete inhibition of MeJA-mediated indolyl GS accumulation compared with those changes in florets of mature broccoli plants. These results suggest that GS accumulation under Se fertilization may be influenced by not only the level of Se fertilization, but also the differences in sizes of available pools of resources (sulfur and sulfur-containing amino acids) required for GS biosynthesis and accumulation in broccoli plants. Partitioning of the variance indicated that the existence of substantial variability in GS concentrations was primarily attributed to differences in genotype response across different treatments. Results suggest that cultivar selection and breeding of broccoli can be used to develop broccoli germplasm with enhanced capacity for Se uptake and stability of GS biosynthesis with varying Se fertilization.
Kang Mo Ku and John A. Juvik
Aqueous solutions of 250 μM methyl jasmonate (MeJA) were sprayed on aerial plant surfaces 4 days before harvest at commercial maturity of five commercial broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica) hybrids, ‘Pirate’, ‘Expo’, ‘Imperial’, ‘Gypsy’, and ‘Green Magic’, and two kale cultivars, Red Winter (Brassica napus ssp. pabularia) and Dwarf Blue Curled Vates (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala DC.) in replicated field trials over 2 years. While having no effect on broccoli floret concentrations, MeJA treatments significantly increased total phenolics in kale cultivars over two seasons by 27% and extract antioxidant activity by 31% using the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assay. Partitioning experiment-wide trait variances indicated that the variability in broccoli floret concentrations of total phenolics (74%), quercetin (24%), kaempferol (34%), and 2,2'-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) diammonium salt (ABTS) (66%) and DPPH (62%) antioxidant activity was largely influenced by year-associated environmental factors. In broccoli, the differential accumulation of solar radiation among cultivars resulting from the variation in days to maturity was significantly correlated with total phenolics, ABTS, and DPPH antioxidant activity. Broccoli floret and kale total phenolic, quercetin, and kaempferol concentrations significantly correlated with DPPH and ABTS antioxidant activity. To summarize, total phenolic and flavonoid concentrations and their associated antioxidant activity in broccoli florets were unaffected by MeJA but varied significantly among cultivars and over growing seasons. Apical, compared with basal, leaves in kale were more responsive to MeJA-mediated increases in total phenolics and ABTS and DPPH antioxidant activity.
James E. Frelichowski and John A. Juvik
Sesquiterpene carboxylic acids (SCA) are synthesized by leaf trichomes of a wild tomato species Lycopersicon hirsutum accession LA 1777 and confer resistance to the tomato pests Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) and Spodoptera exigua (Hubner). Larvae of both species exhibited a reduction in survival and growth rate with altered feeding behavior when exposed to SCA in choice and no-choice insect bioassays. Larvae of both species were reared on artificial insect diets with SCA added at 0, 10 and 60 mg SCA per g of diet. All larvae perished in the 60 mg·g–1 treatment which is comparable to the levels of SCA found on LA 1777. H. zea and S. exigua showed about 35% and 60% reduction in survival to adult and 38% to 22% increase in life cycle duration, respectively, in the 10 mg·g–1 treatment relative to the control. Similar reductions in growth rate and survival were observed when larvae were reared on leaves coated with SCA. Choice bioassays with control (0 mg SCA/g leaf) and 60 mg SCA/g treated leaf tissue demonstrated 2.3-fold increase in larval avoidance and 50% reduction in feeding on treated leaves. Our results suggest that breeding for SCA synthesis in tomato would produce lines with increased resistance to the tomato pests H. zea and S. exigua. Backcross breeding procedures using LA 1777 have initiated the introgression of the SCA genes into cultivated tomato germplasm. Studies of inheritance of genes coding for SCA synthesis are underway to reveal allelic interactions and facilitate there introgression into the cultivated tomato germplasm.
Don R. La Bonte and John A. Juvik
A single-kernel, sugar analysis technique was used to study the genetic relationship between morphological and metabolic traits previously associated with expression of the sugary enhancer (se) endosperm mutation in a su-1 sweet corn (Zea mays L.) background. Analysis of sucrose and total carotene content in su-1 kernel populations segregating for se showed that light-yellow kernel color was a reliable phenotypic indicator for kernels homozygous for the se gene. High levels of kernel maltose was not always indicative of su-1 se kernels in mature (55 days after pollination) kernel populations. Characteristic high levels of percent moisture in su-1 se kernels at 28 and 35 days post-pollination were identified as an expression of high sugar content. Kernels homozygous for su-1 se were also found to weigh less at maturity than su-1 Se kernels, and se was found to be partially expressed in a heterozygous condition.
Adamson D. Wang, John M. Swiader, and John A. Juvik
Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) has been identified as the compound responsible for the characteristic aroma of cooked sweet corn (Zea mays L.) and, along with sugar and water-soluble polysaccharides, is one of the main flavor components in the kernels. Because of the close relationship between DMS and its amino acid precursor S-methylmethionine, the premise was formulated that it might be possible to improve sweet corn aroma and overall eating quality through enhanced production of DMS from increased application of N and S to the crop in the field. Studies were conducted on a Plainfield sand and a Flanagan silt loam to evaluate the effects of N and S fertilization on kernel DMS production in several commercial sh2 hybrids; in the process, the effect of N and S fertilization on various yield and yield component parameters was also determined. Hybrid was the main factor affecting kernel DMS production, although in both soils kernel DMS levels were influenced by significant interactions between hybrid and fertilizer treatments. Kernel DMS content, in response to increasing N fertilization rates, increased by an average of 85% in three of six hybrids in the Plainfield sand and by 60% in two of three hybrids in the Flanagan silt loam. The effect of S fertilization on kernel DMS production was small, with only one hybrid on the sandy soil showing a positive response (38%) to S application, and then in combination with high N rates. Irrespective of N-S fertilization regime, kernel DMS concentrations decreased at both locations by an average of ≈8.5% per day as kernel maturity increased. The results showed that kernel DMS production may be enhanced by N nutrition, independent of N fertilization effects on ear and kernel yields.