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Winthrop B. Phippen and James E. Simon

The importance of anthocyanins as a food coloring, UV protectant, inhibitor of pathogens, and medicinal compound has been well-documented, with more than 300 anthocyanin compounds being reported in plants. The Lamiaceae family, including sage, thyme, and basil, has long been recognized as a rich source of diverse and unique anthocyanins. Because purple basil varieties have become more popular in the ornamental and herb trade, we conducted a study to identify and characterize the anthocyanins present in eight varieties of purple basils (Ocimum basilicum) utilizing high-pressure liquid chromatography, spectral data and plasma-desorption mass spectronomy. Nine different anthocyanins were identified. Seven of the pigments were cyanidin-based, with cyanidin-3-(6”-p-coumarylglucoside)-5-(6”'-malonylglucoside) as the major pigment. Two minor pigments based on peonidin were also identified. Total anthocyanin content was also determined and comparisons made to other anthocyanin sources.

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Winthrop B. Phippen and James E. Simon

A plant regeneration protocol was successfully developed for basil (O. basilicum L.). Explants from 1-month-old seedlings yielded the highest frequency of regeneration of shoots (37%) with an average number of 3.6 shoots per explant. Calli and shoot induction were initiated on Murashige and Skoog (MS) basal medium supplemented with thidiazuron (TDZ) (4 mg/L) for ≈30 days. Shoot induction and development was achieved by refreshing the induction medium once after 14 days. The most morphogenetically responsive explants were basal leaf explants from the first fully expanded true leafs of greenhouse-grown basil seedlings. Developing shoots were then rooted on MS media in the dark without TDZ. Within 20 days, rooted plantlets were transferred and acclimatized under greenhouse conditions where they developed normal morphological characteristics. This is the first report of a successful in vitro regeneration system for basil through primary callus. The establishment of a reliable regeneration procedure is critical when developing a transformation protocol for enhancing the production of basil for insect and disease resistance and improved essential oil constituents.

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Winthrop B. Phippen, James R. McFerson, and Stephen Kresovich

Genetic variation and relationships in genetic resources collections can be assessed using molecular genetic markers. We examined the applicability of the RAPD assay for quick, cost-effective, and reliable use in improving collection management. Fourteen accessions of Brassica oleracea spp. capitata `Golden Acre' (cabbage) were screened using nine decamer oligonucleotide primers. We obtained 110 reproducible fragments, of which 80 were polymorphic, ranging in size from 370-1730 bp. Individual accessions were readily distinguished. A cluster analysis of genetic distances generated by bootstrapping reflected all known genetic relationships, except one. Bulking strategies were also investigated. RAPD markers can be applied to gene bank management to measure variation, identify accessions, and establish genetic similarity at the intra-specific level addressing the needs of both curators and users.