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Timothy W. Coolong and William M. Randle

Sandy soils in the onion (Allium cepa L.) growing region of southeastern Georgia are generally low in calcium (Ca). Bulbs grown in these soils are often soft and susceptible to postharvest diseases. Preliminary greenhouse studies have indicated that supplemental calcium chloride (CaCl2) can improve bulb firmness. The effects of supplemental CaCl2 on the quality of field-grown onions were therefore investigated. Other preliminary studies indicated that CaCl2 may inhibit sulfur (S) uptake in onion and decrease bulb pungency. Thus, ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4 and CaCl2 levels were varied to determine if CaCl2 could improve flavor at different levels of nitrogen (N) and S fertility. Onions, cv Georgia Boy, were grown with 0, 250, and 500 kg·ha−1 (NH4)2SO4 and 0, 115, and 230 kg·ha−1 CaCl2 in a factorial combination in 2005 and 2006. Total bulb yield increased with increasing (NH4)2SO4, but was unaffected by CaCl2. The percentage of diseased bulbs increased during storage in both years, and was affected by (NH4)2SO4 fertility in 2006. Bulb scale firmness increased with supplemental CaCl2 fertility and decreased significantly during storage in both years. Fertility treatments had little effect on bulb pectin composition, although total pectin concentrations fell during storage in 2005 and 2006. In addition, bulb pungency decreased with additional CaCl2 in 2006. However, CaCl2 had a limited effect on flavor precursor concentrations. There were no interactions between fertility treatments, but there were CaCl2 and (NH4)2SO4 by storage duration interactions affecting firmness and disease incidence, respectively. With the exception of yield, differences among years in the parameters measured were generally small.

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Timothy W. Coolong and William M. Randle

The effects of temperature and developmental age on flavor intensity and quality were tested by growing `Granex 33' onions (Allium cepa L.) at 16.5, 22.1, 26.7, and 32.2 (±0.4) °C for 50 days and to maturity. Plants were harvested and evaluated for growth characteristics. Bulbs were then analyzed for sulfur (S) assimilation and flavor development parameters. Total bulb S increased linearly with temperature regardless of bulb age. Bulb sulfate changed little over temperatures, indicating that organically bound S increased with temperature. Total pyruvic acid content (pungency), total S-alkenyl cysteine sulfoxide (ACSO) content and individual ACSOs increased linearly in response to temperature when measured at the two developmental stages. Though trans-(+)-S-(1-propenyl)-L-cysteine sulfoxide was the predominant ACSO at most temperatures, (+)-S-methyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide accumulation was greatest among the individual ACSOs in mature bulbs grown at 32.2 °C. Additionally, (+)-S-propyl cysteine sulfoxide was present in the least amount at all treatment levels and developmental stages. Gamma glutamyl propenyl cysteine sulfoxide and 2-carboxypropyl glutathione peptides in the flavor biosynthetic pathway also increased linearly with temperature. When ACSOs were assessed in onion macerate as a measure of alliinase activity, levels of degraded ACSOs increased linearly with growing temperature. The relative percentage of most ACSOs hydrolyzed, however, did not change in response to growing temperature. This suggested that the activity of alliinase was proportional to the amounts of flavor precursors synthesized. Growing temperature, therefore, should be considered when evaluating and interpreting yearly and regional variability in onion flavor.

Free access

Timothy W. Coolong and William M. Randle

To determine the extent to which sulfur (S) and nitrogen (N) fertility interact to influence the flavor biosynthetic pathway in onion (Allium cepa L.), `Granex 33' onions were grown in hydroponic solution culture with varying levels of S and N availability. Plants were grown at 5, 45, or 125 mg·L-1 sulfate (SO4 2-), and 10, 50, 90, or 130 mg·L-1 N, in a factorial combination. Total bulb S, total and individual flavor precursors and their peptide intermediates in intact onion tissue were measured. To measure the effect of S and N on alliinase activity, flavor precursors were also measured in onion macerates. Sulfur and N availability in the hydroponics solution interacted to influence all flavor compounds except S-methyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide. Levels of S-methyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide were influenced by N and S levels in the solutions; however, no interaction was present. At the lowest SO 4 2- or N levels, most precursors and peptides measured were present in very low concentrations. When SO 4 2- or N availability was adequate, differences among flavor compounds were small. Results indicated that S fertility had a greater influence on trans-S-1-propenyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide (1-PRENCSO) accumulation, while N availability had a greater influence on S-methyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide levels. Flavor precursors remaining in the onion macerates revealed that the percentage of intact precursors hydrolyzed by alliinase were not significantly influenced by either SO 4 2- or N levels in the solutions, except for 1-PRENCSO, which was affected by N levels. Nitrogen and S fertility interacted to influence the flavor biosynthetic pathway and may need to be considered together when manipulating onion flavor compounds.

Free access

Timothy W. Coolong, Ronald R. Walcott, and William M. Randle

A real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay has been developed for the detection and quantification of Botrytis aclada (Fresenius), a causal agent of neck rot in onion (Allium cepa L.) bulbs. The assay uses TaqMan probe-based chemistry to detect an amplicon from the L45-550 region of B. aclada while using a DNA sequence from the onion serine acetyl transferase gene (SAT1) as a control. The assay detection limits for B. aclada and onion were 10 pg·μL−1 of genomic DNA. The detection limit for lyophilized B. aclada mycelium was 1 μg. The presence of onion tissue in the samples did not affect the performance of the real-time PCR assay. The assay distinguished among different amounts of B. aclada mycelium growing on onion disks that were inoculated with 0, 102, or 104 B. aclada conidia. Visual observations during the incubation period corresponded with changes in real-time PCR results. This assay could be used to determine the amount of B. aclada mycelium in bulbs during growth, harvest, and storage, thus giving researchers an objective and efficient tool by which to quantify the growth rate and virulence of B. aclada strains in vivo.

Free access

Timothy W. Coolong, William M. Randle, Heather D. Toler, and Carl E. Sams

Rapid cycling Brassica rapa L. were grown for 7 days in the presence of 11 levels of zinc (Zn) in hydroponic solution culture and evaluated for changes in Zn and glucosinolate (GS) content. Zinc levels were 0.05, 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, and 200 mg·L-1 Zn. Plants grown in solutions with ≥50 mg·L-1 Zn displayed severe Zn toxicity symptoms, grew little, or died and were not subsequently evaluated for GS content. Shoot Zn concentrations increased linearly with increasing Zn treatment levels. Gluconapin, which accounted for nearly 90% of the aliphatic GSs present, was the only aliphatic GS influenced by Zn, and decreased linearly with increasing Zn levels. Accumulation of glucobrassicin and 4-methoxyglucosbrassicin, both indole GSs, responded with a linear increase and quadratically, respectively, to Zn fertility. An aromatic GS, gluconasturtiin, was also influenced by Zn levels in solution, and had a quadratic response to increasing Zn. This suggested that Zn fertility can influence changes in GS that may affect flavor (bitterness, etc.) or medicinal attributes associated with the GS and their breakdown products, as well as elevate the nutritional status of Zn in the leaves of Brassica.

Open access

Lavesta C. Hand, Kayla M. Eason, Taylor M. Randell, Timothy L. Grey, John S. Richburg, Timothy W. Coolong, and A. Stanley Culpepper

Planting cole crops and leafy greens in plastic mulch free of summer and winter annual broadleaf weeds is challenging. Because these crops are often grown as a second or third crop on mulch, weeds emerge in previously punched plant holes, tears in plastic, and row middles. Without the ability to use tillage and with limited herbicide options available for weed control, achieving a weed-free planting window is not often feasible. Additional herbicide options are needed, but their interaction with plastic mulch must be understood. Therefore, research has determined the persistence of preplant applications of 2,4-D tank-mixed with glyphosate applied over plastic mulch. Analytical laboratory analyses of plastic samples from field experiments, in conjunction with bioassays using broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis L.) and collard (Brassica oleracea var. viridis L.), evaluated herbicide dissipation. Analytical studies determined that 0.5 cm of irrigation after herbicide application and 1 day before planting removed 99% of 2,4-D, and 100% of glyphosate from the plastic mulch. Waiting an additional 14 days after application and irrigation further reduced the amount of 2,4-D on the plastic mulch 88% to 95%. For the field bioassay, preplant applications of 2,4-D tank-mixed with glyphosate resulted in 7% or less visual broccoli or collard injury without influencing crop growth, biomass, early season yield, or total yield as long as the mulch was washed with 0.5 cm of irrigation before planting. These studies also demonstrated there were no differences between the 1× and 2× use rates with respect to all response variables measured. Results suggest that 2,4-D and glyphosate can be effectively removed from the surface of plastic mulch with irrigation or rainfall before planting broccoli and collard.