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.
Carotenoids are important phytochemical components of our diet and have gained recent attention as important nutritive compounds found mainly in fruits and vegetables with red, orange, and yellow hues. Lycopene is often cited as being inversely correlated with the occurrence of various cancers, in lowering rates of cardiovascular disease, and improving other various other immune responses. Antioxidant activity, specifically oxidative radical quenching power, is the putative rationale for carotenoids' involvement in disease risk reduction. It is unlikely, however, that carotenoid content and antioxidant capacity are directly correlated in the whole food since there are other antioxidants present in watermelon, such as various free amino acids. A total measure of antioxidant potential may prove to be a useful tool for measuring watermelon nutritional value and implementing pursuant breeding goals. One assay that has gained recent popularity is the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay. ORAC includes two assays that separate lipophylic and hydrophilic antioxidants. Currently, most ORAC protocols use isolated compounds or freeze-dried fruit or vegetable samples. Here, the application of a standard hexane-type extraction method, which is more amenable to whole food carotenoid-containing samples, was investigated as a candidate extraction method for the ORAC assay. Variants of this method as well as of the standard ORAC extraction were compared for extraction efficiency. Finally, ORAC values were correlated with carotenoid content and shown to hold a loose negative correlation. Possible reasons for this are considered and discussed.
Anthocyanins are protective pigments that accumulate in plant organs such as fruits and leaves, and are nutritionally valuable components of the human diet. The MYB10 transcription factor (TF) plays an important role in regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis in Malus crabapple leaves. However, little is known about how the promoter regulates McMYB10 expression and influences the substantial variation in leaf anthocyanin accumulation and coloration that is observed in different crabapple cultivars. In this study, we analyzed leaf coloration, anthocyanin levels, and the expression levels of McMYB10 in the leaves of 15 crabapple cultivars with three leaf colors at various development stages, and showed that the expression of McMYB10 correlates positively with anthocyanin accumulation. We also examined the relationship between the number of R6 and R1 elements in the McMYB10 promoters of the different cultivars and the pigmentation of the new buds of spring-red cultivars, as well as the methylation level of the McMYB10 promoters at different development stages in three representative crabapple cultivars. The ratio of R6/R1 minisatellites in the promoters correlated with the color and anthocyanin accumulation in new crabapple buds, and we concluded that the differences in promoter structure and methylation level of the McMYB10 promoters coordinately affect the leaf color of crabapple cultivars.
Extensive epidemiological evidence suggests that carotenoids (including vitamin A), ascorbate (vitamin C), tocols (including vitamin E), and glucosinolate breakdown products exert anticarcinogenic effects in a range of human tissues. Consumption of fresh and processed vegetables with enhanced levels of these phytochemicals could reduce human risk of cancer. The vitamins play a major role as antioxidants, offering protection against cancer by preventing or reversing oxidative damage to DNA and other cellular components. Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates (GSs), which, during mastication, are hydrolyzed by the enzyme myrosinase into bioactive breakdown products (BBPs), including sulforaphane. BBPs appear to induce synthesis of drug metabolism enzymes resulting in increased detoxification rates of carcinogens. This paper describes an interdisciplinary investigation designed to develop vegetable cultivars that offer chemoprotection from cancer at doses commensurate with a normal American diet. Initial work has focused on surveying sweet corn and Brassicae oleraceae germplasm for variation in vitamin and glucosinolate content in conjunction with in vitro and in vivo bioassays to determine which compounds and concentrations optimize chemoprotectant activity. Segregating populations from crosses between sweet corn and Brassica lines that vary in vitamin and GS concentrations will be assayed for chemical content and chemoprotectant activity, and genetically characterized using DNA marker technology to identify and map genes controlling these traits. This information will improve selection methodology in a breeding program aimed to develop brassica and sweet corn germplasm with enhanced cancer chemoprevention.
CowPea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.) is a candidate species for inclusion in a space-deployed Controlled Ecological Life Support System (CELSS) because it contributes to a balanced diet with its moderate protein content, high complex carbohydrate content, and low fat content, and because leaves and unripe pods as well as dry seeds are edible. Pour harvest scenarios were compared in the experimental line IT84S-2246 under controlled conditions with and without CO2 enrichment. Plants kept vegetative by removal of flowers and periodically stripped of fully expanded leaves yielded as much as either mixed-harvest scenario in which leaves were stripped at either 1- or 2-week intervals until pods started forming. The 2-week harvest scenario outyielded the 1-week scenario by 15 to 25%. The seed-only control produced the same amount of seeds as the 2-week leaf harvest scenario, but had lower total edible biomass because leaves were not harvested. Under 1000 ppm CO2, all treatments yielded from 30 to 70% more edible biomass than under non-CO2-enriched conditions. Research sponsored by NASA Cooperative Agreement NCC 2-100.
The horticulture industry continues to show interest in using stabilized organic wastes as a component of container media. Vermicompost, also known as worm-worked waste or worm castings, is one of these materials of interest and can be produced from a number of organic wastes, including manure wastes. One issue that has not been addressed is the uniformity of vermicomposts produced from wastes of different sources. Are all vermicomposts created equal? The uniformity of vermicompost is important for growers to consider when using as a medium amendment. This research project investigated the physical properties of vermicompost 1) from different sources of wastes and 2) from a single waste source sequentially sampled over time. The first stage determined the physical properties of vermicompost from beef manure, hog manure, and peat-based media used by two earthworm growers. There were significant differences between the four vermicomposts in bulk density, air volume, percent air volume, percent volumetric moisture, total porosity, and water holding capacity. The second stage involved determining the physical characteristics of vermicompost produced from beef manure collected at the Illinois State University Research Farm from cattle receiving a consistent diet through the year. Manure was collected bimonthly. There was no difference in vermicompost bulk density among the samples. There were significant differences in air volume, percent air volume, percent volumetric moisture, total porosity, and water holding capacity. These changes in vermicompost physical characteristics must be quantified for growers to accurately predict performance as a growth medium amendment.
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.
As humans explore the solar system, life support will need to be increasingly self-sufficient. Growing higher plants and using recycling technologies can improve self-sufficiency. Sodium is an essential mineral for humans, but not typically for plants. Recycling sodium back to humans through food crops may reduce the need for sodium supplements in the human diet. However, if sodium from waste streams is added to the plant system in greater quantities than it is removed, then plant toxic levels may result. The recommended daily sodium requirement is 3000 mg per person. Based on a 20-m2 growing area per person, 150 mg·m–2 sodium would need to be removed each day. Most crops will not remove enough salt when grown at very low sodium levels; however, when grown in 20 mM sodium, plant uptake may meet the 3000 mg/d human sodium requirement without affecting yields. We grew four different salad crops (lettuce, radish, spinach, and table beet) hydroponically and calculated plant uptake rates and partitioning with 0, 20, 40, or 80 mM sodium supplemented nutrient solutions (corresponding to ≈1.4, 4.0, 8.0, and 13.0 dS·m–1 electrical conductivity). Sodium at 40 and 80 mM reduced edible yields. Sodium replaced tissue potassium in most cases, whereas calcium and magnesium concentrations were much less affected, particularly at 20 mM sodium. This data will be used to model sodium flows within a bioregenerative life support system and determine the feasibility of sodium recycling using food crops.
Fatty acid is known as a physiologically active compound, and its composition in rice may affect human health in countries where rice is the major diet. The fatty acid composition in brown rice of 120 Korean native cultivars was determined by one-step extraction/methylation method and GC. The average composition of 9 detectable fatty acids in tested rice cultivars were as followings: myristic acid; 0.6%, palmitic acid; 21.2%, stearic acid; 1.8%, oleic acid; 36.5%, linoleic acid; 36.3%, linolenic acid; 1.7%, arachidic acid; 0.5%, behenic acid; 0.4%, and lignoceric acid; 0.9%. Major fatty acids were palmitic, oleic and linoleic acid, which composed around 94%. The rice cultivar with the highest linolenic acid was cv. Jonajo (2.1%), and cvs. Pochoenjangmebye and Sandudo showed the highest composition of palmitic (23.4%) and oleic acid (44.8%), respectively. Cultivar Pochuenjangmebye exhitibed the highest composition of saturated fatty acid (28.1%), while cvs. Sandudo and Modo showed the highest mono-unsaturated (44.8%) and poly-unsaturated (42.4%) fatty acid composition, respectively. The oleic acid showed negative correlation with palmitic and linoleic acid, while positive correlation between behenic and lignoceric acids was observed.