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Philipp W. Simon

Central Asia is the center of origin for many Allium species and a rich genetic source of wild relatives of onion and garlic. For this reason germplasm collections of cultivated Alliums have targeted the acquisition of seed and bulb samples from this region, and several plant expeditions from Asia, Europe, and North America have collected Allium germplasm in Central Asia. Central Asian Allium germplasm has been valuable both as raw materials for scientific research leading to published data, and as starting materials for genetic improvement of the crop. Utilizing this germplasm it has been possible to improve garlic so it can be bred like other seed-propagated crops. Several interspecific crosses have been made between onion and other Central Asian wild relatives and these crosses have yielded useful traits for onion improvement. Allium germplasm from this region has also been important in elucidating the systematics and origins of diversity in onion and garlic. By any of these measures, Central Asian Allium collections have been valuable. Challenges and successes in collecting, maintaining, evaluating, and using these collections remain.

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PHILIPP W. SIMON

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Philipp W. Simon

Four carrot populations with low total sugar/low reducing sugar concentration, low total sugar/high reducing sugar concentration, high total sugar/low reducing sugar concentration, and high total sugar/high reducing sugar concentration were compared for pH 4.5 invertase, pH 7.5 invertase, sucrose synthase, and sucrose phosphate synthase activity. Invertase activities correlated well with reducing sugar concentration. Sucrose synthase and sucrose phosphate synthase activities were low in all populations. Total sugar level was not well-correlated with the activity of any enzyme measured. Developmental analysis indicated some reduction in enzyme activity as roots grew.

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Philipp W. Simon

Diet is implicated globally in the cause and severity of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, and a large body of medical evidence indicates that consumption of healthier foods can alleviate both the incidence and severity of not only these diseases, but also obesity, which is a causal factor for many chronic diseases. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans indicated that several nutrients are underconsumed in the United States, including folate, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K. Vegetables and fruits are major sources of several of these micronutrients and minerals as well as many other phytonutrients. Despite these health benefits, vegetable and fruit intake by U.S. consumers is significantly lower than recommended by dietary guidelines (less than 40% of recommended intake) and has not risen in the past decade. Collaborations between horticultural plant breeders, production and postharvest scientists with food scientists, nutritionists, medical scientists, marketing specialists, and social scientists are needed to develop plans and take action to stimulate increased vegetable and fruit intake. Increased intake may have a positive impact not only on the health of consumers, but would also increase the economic value of horticultural commodities and raise the profile of horticultural sciences. Horticultural approaches to address this important challenge, and opportunity, must be developed.

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Philipp W. Simon

Genetic improvement of carrot, onion, and garlic has depended upon introgression of alleles from foreign cultivars, from wild forms of cultivated species, and from wild species. Introgression of Asian germplasm in European carrots has resulted in more than a doubling of carotene content; wild carrot has provided two of the most widely used male-sterile cytoplasms for production of hybrids; and Daucus capillifolius has been used as a source of resistance to carrot fly. Onion male-sterile cytoplasm used for hybrid production has its origins in a species related to onion, while resistance to several diseases originated in foreign cultivars. Production of true garlic seed has depended on a broad germplasm base for its success. More examples and germplasm utilization strategies will be discussed.

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Ahmet Ipek and Philipp W. Simon

Maize transposable elements, Activator (Ac) and Ds transformed into several heterologous plant species for transposon tagging of genes. Several genes in Arabidopsis, flax, petunia, tobacco, and tomato have been tagged and cloned by using Ac and Ds. We have double transformed carrot lines, B493 and B7262 with stabilized autonomous Ac and non-autonomous Ds element to develop a two-element based transposon tagging system. PCR and Southern hybridization indicated that Ds element transposed from T-DNA in calli, somatic embryos and transgenic plants. The insertion of Ds element into new sites in carrot genome after excision verified by GUS assay, Southern hybridization and inverse-PCR. Currently, the behavior of non-autonomous Ds element is being studied. Ds induced mutation will be screened in transgenic plants. These initial results demonstrate that the Ac/Ds-based transposon tagging system may work in carrot.

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Brian J. Just* and Philipp W. Simon

While the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway has been studied several horticultural and agronomic crops, very little information exists for this conserved pathway in carrot, a primary source of dietary carotenoids. Though orange carrots are the most familiar color to Western consumers, yellow, red, and white carrots also exist and have been historically important. Modern carrot breeders are showing renewed interest in these unusual color phenotypes. Beta- and alpha-carotene are the primary pigments in orange carrot roots. Yellow carrots accumulate xanthophylls (oxygenated carotenes), red carrots accumulate lycopene (the precursor to alpha- and beta-carotene), and white carrots accumulate no detectable pigments. Differences between these phenotypes are usually monogenic or oligogenic. Our research has focused on identifying putative genes for carotenoid biosynthetic enzymes in the carrot genome, mapping them, and examining expression patterns in various tissues and carrot root pigment phenotypes. We are using this information to create a carrot pigment biosynthesis function map incorporating biosynthetic enzymes, major carrot color genes, and gene expression information.

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J. Michele Myers and Philipp W. Simon

We evaluated the efficiency of transformation in garlic for promoter activity, osmoticum effect and shaker speed using particle bombardment as the method of gene delivery. Callus was produced from root segments on a modified B-5 medium for four garlic clones. Suspension cultures were then established on a modified B-5 medium + 2,4-D using 6-month-old callus. Cells were collected by vacuum filtration and the Bio-Rad PDS-1000/He system was used to deliver genes. The activities of CaMV 35S, maize Adh1, and rice Act promoters were evaluated for transient expression using the β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene. Osmotic conditioning of cells was performed by adding both mannitol and sorbitol to the medium. Osmoticum effect was evaluated for enhancement of transformation efficiency using GUS. The effect of shaker speed (120, 180 and 240 rpm) on cell type was evaluated for transformation efficiency using GUS. CaMV 35S promoter activity was much higher for garlic than either the maize Adh1 or rice Act promoters. Osmoticum did not enhance promoter activity, but differences in response to osmoticum among garlic clones were observed. Shaker speed did affect cell type, and transformation efficiency was greatly increased at higher shaker speeds. Confirmation of stable transformation and regeneration are in progress.