The oil extracted from seed of selected accessions of Oenothera, also known as the wildflower evening primrose, has documented medical applications. Evening primrose oil contains from 0.0 to 12.0% gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) (C 18:3, delta 6, 9, 12). This unique fatty acid, which occurs in only a few plant species, can correct deficiencies in the delta 6 desaturase enzyme. Low levels of this enzyme prevent formation of the long chain fatty acids responsible for the production of prostaglandins and thromboxanes. Supplementation of the diet with evening primrose oil rich in GLA ensures adequate levels of these essential products. Inconsistent seed germination, poor emergence, and small seed size of accessions containing higher levels of GLA have limited commercial production of this crop. Currently, most producers establish their field through transplants. In this project, methods of improving seed germination have been explored. Seed coatings using diatomaceous earth were shown to facilitate handling and improve germination in the laboratory. Osmotic priming and red light exposure were also evaluated as means of improving germination.
Brassica species are important economic vegetable crop, and it is possible to enrich them with selenium (Se) to supplement human diets. The health benefits associated with increased Se consumption include cancer suppression, reduced heart disease, and immune system enhancement. Vegetables enriched with Se can serve as excellent delivery systems of organic Se forms, which are more beneficial than traditional Se supplements. The vegetable Brassicas are consumed not only for their flavor, but also for their nutritional content. A heterogeneous population of rapid-cycling B. oleracea was used as a model system to study the effects of added selenate-Se on other plant micro- and macronutrients. Plants were grown in nutrient solutions amended with sodium selenate at 0.0, 3.0, 6.0, and 9.0 mg·L–1. Leaf tissues were then analyzed for nutrient content. Boron (P = 0.001) and iron (P = 0.01) content decreased, while selenium (P = 0.001), sulfur (P = 0.001), and potassium (P = 0.001) increased with increasing selenate-Se. Significant quadratic responses were found for calcium (P = 0.02), copper (P = 0.05), magnesium (P = 0.01), and molybdenum (P = 0.01). No differences in leaf fresh or dry weight were detected. Changes in plant nutrient content can be expected when Brassicas are enhanced for delivery of beneficial organic Se.
Anthocyanins are protective pigments that accumulate in plant organs such as fruits and leaves, and are nutritionally valuable components of the human diet. There is thus considerable interest in the factors that regulate synthesis. Malus crabapple leaves are rich sources of these compounds, and in this study we analyzed leaf coloration, anthocyanin levels, and the expression levels of anthocyanin biosynthetic and regulatory genes in three crabapple cultivars (Royalty, Prairifire, and Flame) following various temperature treatments. We found that low temperatures (LTs) promoted anthocyanin accumulation in ‘Royalty’ and ‘Prairifire’, leading to red leaves, but not in ‘Flame’, which accumulated abundant colorless flavonols and retained green colored leaves. Quantitative reverse transcript PCR (RT-PCR) analyses indicated that the expression of several anthocyanin biosynthetic genes was induced by LTs, as were members of the R2R3-MYB, basic helix–loop–helix (bHLH) and WD40 transcription factor families that are thought to act in a complex. We propose that anthocyanin biosynthesis is differentially regulated in the three cultivars by LTs via the expression of members of this anthocyanin regulatory complex.
Carotenoids (provitamin A) and tocopherols (vitamin E) are powerful antioxidants in plants and in the human diet. Carrot (Daucus carota) has been selected for increased levels of carotenoids, contributing to its orange color and reported health benefits. Selection for increased tocopherol has shown success in seed oils, but little progress has been made in the edible portions of most vegetable crops. HPLC measurement following a simultaneous heptane extraction of both compounds has shown a significant (P ≤ 0.001) positive correlation of α-tocopherol with α-carotene (r = 0.65) and β-carotene (r = 0.52). To increase both the tocopherols and carotenoids in plants, 3 populations have been established from select open-pollinated varieties grown in 2002. These populations consist of half-sib families with these differing selection schemes: based strictly on increased α-tocopherol levels; an index to increase α-carotene, β-carotene and α-tocopherol; and a random population in which no selection is occurring. After one cycle of selection, populations were grown on muck soil during the summer of 2003. Compared with the random population, an increase of 24.68% in α-tocopherol concentration was recorded for the population selected strictly on α-tocopherol while increases of 8.47% in α-tocopherol, 9.31% in α-carotene and 7.31% in β-carotene were recorded for the population with index selection. The continuation of these carrot populations shows promise to produce carrot germplasm with improved human nutritive value.
Demand for fresh fruits and vegetables is increasing worldwide in response to health concerns, wealth, and the desire for variety in the diet. However, consumption of produce is contingent on the ability of the industry to provide high quality fresh produce and on its convenience, as well as on consumer education and economics. Texture measurement is accepted by horticultural industries as a critical indicator of quality of fruits and vegetables. The fresh produce industry and, indirectly, consumers need methods for measuring produce texture to ensure the quality within a grade, and scientists need measurements to quantify the results of their treatments, whether treatments are genetic, chemical, or physical. The variety of attributes required to fully describe textural properties can only be fully measured by sensory evaluation by a panel of trained assessors. However, instrumental measurements are preferred over sensory evaluations for both commercial and research applications because instruments are more convenient, less expensive, and tend to provide consistent values when used by different people. Thus, instrumental measurements need to be developed that predict sensory evaluations of texture. Such instrumental measurements can then provide a common language among researchers, producers, packers, regulatory agencies, and customers. We compare sensory evaluations of specific critical textural attributes to instrumental force/deformation measurements on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables with relatively uniform bulk tissues, such as apples, bananas, carrots, jicama, melons, pears, potatoes, rutabagas, and several others.
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is an essential salad crop in the American diet. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are required for successful lettuce production and can influence lettuce quality. The objective of the study was to evaluate changes in nutritional composition of romaine (`Green Tower') and iceberg (`Sharp Shooter') lettuce in responses to N, P and K fertilization during fall production in Salinas, Calif. Sixteen treatment combinations of fertilizer were selected to provide a range of treatments. N was applied at 0, 112, 225, and 338 kg·ha-1 as ammonium nitrate; P was applied at 0, 112, and 225 kg/ha as super phosphate; and K was applied at 0 and 112 kg·ha-1 as muriate of potash. Nutritional content of fresh tissue of two types of lettuce was analyzed using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Among the parameters analyzed were lutein, beta-carotene, chlorophyll a, and chlorophyll b. Yield was increased with increasing N fertilizer level, but was not affected by P or K application rates. The best post harvest quality, however, was at moderate P application rate. Increasing the N and P rates gradually increased glucose content in lettuce but decreased the shelf life. Significant differences between the two types of lettuce were found in chlorophyll, lutein and beta-carotene content. No significant correlations were found between soil fertilizer application levels and nutritional content of lettuce. However, the ratio of chlorophyll a and b were greater with the increase of fertilizer rate. Nutritional composition including vitamin C will be presented.
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is an essential nutrient in the human diet and potatoes are a valuable source. As a first step in breeding for potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) with higher levels of ascorbic acid, 75 clones from 12 North American potato-breeding programs were evaluated for concentration, and 10 of those for stability of expression. Trials were grown in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington in 1999 and 2000, tubers sampled, and ascorbic acid quantified. There were significant differences among clones and clone by environment interaction was also significant. Concentration of ascorbic acid of the clones was continuously distributed over a range of 11.5 to 29.8 mg/100 g. A subgroup of 10 clones was analyzed using an additive main effects and multiplicative interaction (AMMI) model, to diagnose interaction patterns and measure clone stability. The first two principal component axes accounted for over 80% of the variability. Bi-plot analysis showed `Ranger Russet' to be highly unstable across the environments tested. A plot of Tai's stability statistics found six of the 10 clones to be stable for ascorbic acid expression. Appropriate evaluation methods for ascorbic acid concentration must involve multi-year testing.
Periderm and cortex tissues of 14 genetically diverse sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] clones were grown under low stress conditions and analyzed for their content of scopoletin ((7-hydroxy-6-methoxycoumarin) and scopolin (7-glucosylscopoletin). A wide range of concentrations of both compounds was found in both tissues. The two compounds were tested in vitro for their biological activity (concentration-activity relationships) using several bio assays: germination of proso-millet (Panicum milliaceum L.) seed; mycelial growth of the sweetpotato fungal pathogens Fusarium oxysporum Schlecht. f. sp. batatas (Wollenw.) Snyd. & Hans, F. solani (Sacc.) Mart., Lasiodiplodia theobromae (Pat.) Griffon & Maubl., and Rhizopus stolonifer (Ehr. ex Fr.) Lind; and growth and mortality of diamondback moth[Plutella xylostella (L.)] larvae on artificial diet. The glycoside scopolin showed little activity, except moderate inhibition of F. oxysporum. The aglycone scopoletin inhibited seed germination and larval growth; however, at much higher concentrations than were measured in the tissues. Mycelial growth of the four pathogenic fungi, however, was inhibited at concentrations occurring in some sweetpotato clones.
The vigorous growth habit and tolerances to heat, water, and acid stresses suggest cowpea as a candidate species for Controlled Ecological Life-Support Systems (CELSS). The low fat, high protein, moderate carbohydrate content of the edible leaves and seeds complement cereal grains in the vegetarian diets planned for CELSS. Cowpea canopy densities of 3.6, 7.2, 10.7, and 14.3 plants·m-2 were grown under CO2 levels of 400 or 1200 μl·l-1. Plants were grown in a deep-batch recirculating hydroponic system. pH was maintained at 5.5 by a pH controller with an in-line electrode. The nutrient solution was replaced as needed and sampled weekly for analysis by inductively coupled plasmaatomic emission spectrometry. Fluorescent lights provided 674±147 μmol·m-2s-1 PAR for an 8-hour photoperiod. Day/night temperature was maintained at 27/25°C. CO2 draw-down within the growth chamber was measured to calculate net photosynthesis. Power consumption was metered and canopy quantum efficiency was calculated. Crop yield rate (g·m-2·d-1). harvest index (% edible biomass), and yield efficiency (edible g·m-2·d-1·(nonedible g)-1) were determined to evaluate the productivity of cowpea for a CELSS. This study was supported by NASA Grant NAGW-2329.
Insecticidal crystal protein fragments (ICPFs) of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) encoded by cryIA(c) gene were shown in diet incorporation studies to be lethal to codling moth (CM; Cydia pomonella) the key insect pest for walnut. However transformed walnut tissues expressing cryIA(c) with Bt codon usage patterns and native DNA sequence revealed very low levels of expression in planta. To correct this problem synthetic versions of one of these genes, cryIA(c) was used to transform walnut tissue. A total of 61 individual transgenic embryo lines were obtained. 34% of these lines (21/61) were high expressors (“class A”) demonstrating 80 to 100% mortality of first in star CM larvae and displaying no further larval development. Twelve clones (20%) were designated “class B” and these showed a marked retardation of larval development and a mortality between 40 to 79%. Embryos from the remaining 28 lines designated “class C” (46%). although transformed, were indistinguishable from the control (untransformed embryos) and showed a mortality of 0 to 39%.