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John A. Juvik, Maurice C. Jangulo, John M. Headrick, Jerald K. Pataky and William F. Tracy

Ten cycles of simple mass selection for increased field emergence and kernel weight in a population of shrunken2 (sh2) maize affected various kernel and seedling traits. Ten of 29 variables measured were intercorrelated and were included in the first principal factor of a principal component, factor analysis. The eight variables in factor 1 that increased with cycles of selection were: emergence and kernel weight (the two selection criteria) plant height 41 days after planting (a measure of seedling vigor), uniformity of stand, total starch content per kernel total carbohydrate content per kernel, concentration of starch, and starch content per kernel. The two variables in factor 1 that decreased were: conductivity of electrolytes that leached from imbibing seeds and symptomatic infection of kernels by fungi. Factor 1 was a “seed and seedling quality” factor. The other 19 variables formed five principal factors that primarily were “sugar,” “pericarp,” and “asymptomatic fungal infection” factors. These five factors and the variables from which they were formed, were not affected by selection. These results suggest that seed and seedling quality factors can be improved by selection in a sh2 population without affecting sweetness or tenderness. These results also suggest that although selection for increased emergence and kernel weight lowered the incidence of symptomatic infection by fungi, the population was not improved specifically for resistance to Fusarium moniliforme Sheldon.

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Andrew L. Thomas, Richard J. Crawford Jr, George E. Rottinghaus, John K. Tracy, Wendy L. Applequist, Besa E. Schweitzer, Larry J. Havermann, Scott F. Woodbury, James S. Miller, Mark R. Ellersieck and Dean E. Gray

Black cohosh [Actaea racemosa L.; Cimicifuga racemosa (L.) Nutt.] is a perennial herb native to North America that is commonly used for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. The plant is almost exclusively harvested from the wild and is being threatened by overharvesting in some regions. As demand for this plant continues to increase, the potential for profitable cultivation of this species is becoming realistic. Little is known about the effect of various cultivation practices, soils, environments, and harvest times on the multitude of phytochemicals that occur in black cohosh. Furthermore, although the rhizome is the organ that is traditionally consumed, other tissues also contain various quantities of important phytochemicals, but this has not been well documented. The objectives of this study, therefore, were to ascertain any environmental effects on the production of two representative phytochemicals (23-epi-26-deoxyactein and cimiracemoside A) and to elucidate any season-long patterns or variations in the production of these compounds within five black cohosh tissues (leaf, rachis, rhizome, root, and inflorescence). All black cohosh tissues contained 23-epi-26-deoxyactein with substantially more, as a percentage of dry weight, detected in inflorescence (28,582 to 41,354 mg·kg−1) and leaf (8250 to 16,799 mg·kg−1) compared with rhizome (2688 to 4094 mg·kg−1), and all tissues experienced a linear season-long decrease in occurrence of this compound. Cimiracemoside A was not detected in leaf tissues. The highest levels were found in rhizome (677 to 1138 mg·kg−1) and root (598 to 1281 mg·kg−1), which likewise experienced a significant season-long decrease in this compound, whereas levels in the rachis (0 to 462 mg·kg−1) increased over time. In general, environmental factors did not affect production of either compound. Varying seasonal patterns in phytochemical production, combined with differences in phytochemical content among plant tissues, point to the potential for more targeted horticultural production of these and other medicinal compounds within black cohosh.

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Ksenija Gasic and John E. Preece

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Ksenija Gasic, John E. Preece and David Karp