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- Author or Editor: K.J. Vining x
Mentha longifolia, a wild relative of the polyploid, cultivated Mentha (mint) species, was evaluated as a potential model system for genetic research relevant to the cultivated mints. Fourteen Mentha longifolia accessions maintained by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service, National Clonal Germplasm Repository (NCGR), were highly diverse with respect to geographic origin, oil composition, verticillium wilt resistance, aspects of morphology, and molecular marker polymorphism. Accession CMEN 584 was the only carvone chemotype, while CMEN 682 was the only accession with high menthol content. Trans-piperitone oxide was the primary oil component of accessions CMEN 17 and CMEN 18, while pulegone was most abundant in CMEN 20, CMEN 500, CMEN 501, and CMEN 585. Four accessions—CMEN 585, CMEN 17, CMEN 501, and CMEN 81—were consistently resistant to verticillium wilt, while CMEN 584 and CMEN 516 were highly susceptible. Pairwise similarity coefficients were calculated and a UPGMA (unweighted pair-group analysis) tree was constructed on the basis of 63 informative randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) marker bands. CMEN 585 and CMEN 584 shared the greatest number of bands (16), and formed a distinct cluster in the UPGMA tree. Seven pairs of accessions had no bands in common, emphasizing the high degree of molecular diversity represented by these accessions. The favorable features of diploid (2n = 2x = 24) genome constitution, comparatively small genome size (400 to 500 Mb), self-fertility, fecundity, and diversity with respect to economically relevant traits, contribute to M. longifolia's potential usefulness as a model system for the cultivated mints. As a perennial species amenable to vegetative propagation, M. longifolia's spectrum of susceptibility/resistance to an important vascular wilt disease encourages its further evaluation as a system for broader studies of plant–microbe interactions and disease resistance mechanisms.