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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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Saudi Arabia is known for arid character and its total unsuitability for any agricultural exploitation. However; it is- now proving otherwise with the application of modern agrotechnology resulting in large scale production of many crops successfully. Considering the international growing demand of essential oils, need of agrocommunities for new crops, advantages of local warm climate and availability of generous government funding system, essential oil production offers immense potential in Saudi Arabia. This paper intends to describe the prospects of raising Pelargonium graveolens, Mentha arvensis, Artemesia pallens, Cymbopogon winterianus, Cymbopogon flexuosus, Ocimum basilicum, Eucalyptus citriodora, Rosemarinus officinalis, Coriandrum sativum, Anethum graveolens, Jasminum grandiflorum and Pogostemon patchouli successfully at various ecosystems and to establish new agroindustries based on essential oils around the Kingdom.

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Basils (Ocimum species) of the mint family Lamiaceae are well known for their multiple uses as culinary, aromatic, and medicinal plants worldwide. Basils are integral components of Asian and Mediterranean cuisine and are also widely used for treating diabetes and cancers. Basil has a limited acceptance as a culinary herb in the United States. The potential exists for development of culinary, medicinal, aromatic, and ornamental basil cultivars for production in the southeastern United States. In a preliminary field trial, 84 accessions belonging to six species of the genus Ocimum were evaluated for agronomic parameters in single-row plots. Wide variations exist between and within species for all agronomic traits studied. The mean percent emergence between species ranged from 60.0% for O. americanum var. americanum to 100.0% for an unknown species from Italy and O. campechianum. The aboveground fresh biomass per plant ranged from 424.0 g for O. sellol to 1450.3 g for the unknown Italian accession. The unknown Italian accession produced more branches per plant and also had the highest root, leaf, stem, and inflorescence fresh and dry weights among species. Ocimumsellol plants emerged late, had a slower rate of emergence, and produced a lower total biomass than other species. Ocimumgratissimum partitioned a greater proportion of the total dry weight to leaves (37.9%) and roots (14.4%), whereas O. basilicum. O americanum var. americanum, and O. campechianum partitioned a greater amount of dry matter to inflorescence and the least to roots than other species. In this presentation, the agronomic traits and basil cultivars with potential for ornamental and medicinal purposes will be discussed.

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Abstract

Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) plants were grown, until flower buds became visible, in a peat-lite mix and watered daily with a complete nutrient solution with 10 mm N as either NO 3 or NH 4 + . Ammonium decreased plant height and stem plus petiole dry weight. Leaf blade dry weight was not affected by N form. However, the essential oil content was decreased by 28% with NH 4 + , thereby decreasing the essential oil yield per plant. Although NH 4 + decreased the content (nl·g-1 leaf blade dry weight) of linalool and eugenol, their percentage was not altered. Therefore, the changes in total yield of these individual constituents was simply a reflection of less total extractable essential oil. The total amount of the other major constituents in sweet basil, 1,8-cineole, methyl chavicol, and total sesquiterpenes was not affected significantly. While N form did not alter the percentage of monoterpenes and aromatic polypropa-noides, NH 4 + -N increased the total sesquiterpene percentage. Nitrogen form altered the essential oil content and composition of sweet basil and, therefore, should be considered in nutritional studies with aromatic plants.

Open Access

Postharvest shelf life (defined by visual quality) of fresh, greenhouse-grown sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) at 5 °C was only 3 to 4 d due to the appearance of chilling injury symptoms. Plants chill-hardened at 10 °C for 4 h daily (2 h at the end of the light period and 2 h at the beginning of the dark period) for 2 d, before harvesting and packaging, had ≈3 d longer postharvest life. Four- to 6-week-old plants were chill-hardened for 1 week at several periods during the day. Chill-hardening at the beginning of the day extended the average shelf life of cuttings from 4- to 5-week-old plants by 1 and 1.5 d, respectively. Shelf life either was decreased or not affected by the other periods of preharvest hardening. More importantly, postharvest chill-hardening of packaged sweet basil for 1 day at 10 °C in darkness before transfer to 5 °C increased average shelf life by 5 d. Good potential exists for postharvest chill-hardening of packaged sweet basil since this method is effective and convenient.

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An inexpensive ultrasonic fogging system is presented that aids in the establishment of tissue culture shoots in soil under greenhouse conditions. In addition, ultrasonic fogging may be coupled to CO2 nutrient enhancement via bubbling CO2 into the water reservoirs prior to fogging to improve growth and morphogenesis responses of shoots. A list and cost of items for the system and its assembly is given. Transplanted tissue culture shoots of basil (Ocimum basilicum L.), hosta (Hosta sp.), mint (Mentha sp.), and thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) were tested with this fogging system with and without CO2 nutrient elevation and compared to the growth of shoots grown under a misting system with and without CO2 nutrient elevation. In all cases, ultrasonic fogging enhanced survival rates, growth (fresh weights) and morphogenesis (axially shoots, leaves and roots) vs. that occurring in the misting system. For example, thyme and mint shoots exhibited 2- and 5-fold increases, respectively, in fresh weights under ultrasonic fogging with CO2 compared to misting systems with CO2. Associated with enhanced survival and morphogenesis was an overall enhancement of shoot and leaf size and overall maturation responses. This is also reflected in enhanced secondary products obtained from shoots grown under ultrasonic fogging compared to shoots grown in misting systems.

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The effect of controlled atmospheres (CA) on the development of injury symptoms and storage life of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) cuttings was assessed. Three-node basil stem cuttings were placed in micro-perforated low-density polyethylene packages and stored in the dark at 20 °C in a continuous stream of nitrogen containing the following percentages of O2/CO2:21/0 (air), 21/5, 21/10, 21/15, 21/20, 21/25, 0.5/0, 0.5/5, 1/0, 1.5/0, 2/0, 1/5, 1.5/5, 1.5/7.5, and 1.5/10. Cuttings stored in an atmosphere of <1% O2 developed dark, water-soaked lesions on young tissue after only 3 days. Fifteen percent or more CO2 caused brown spotting on all tissue. Sweet basil stored in 1.5% O2/0% CO2 had an average shelf life of 45 days compared with 18 days for the air control. None of the CA combinations tested alleviated chilling injury symptoms induced by storage at 5 °C.

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Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is a popular culinary herbal crop grown for fresh or dry leaf, essential oil, and seed markets. Recently, basil was shown to rank highest among spices and herbal crops for xanthophyll carotenoids, which are associated with decreased risks of cancer and age-related eye diseases. The research goal for the current study was to characterize the concentrations of nutritionally important carotenoid pigments in popular varieties of basil. Eight cultivars of sweet basil (`Genovese', `Italian Large Leaf', `Nufar', `Red Rubin', `Osmin Purple', `Spicy Bush', `Cinnamon', and `Sweet Thai') were grown in both field and greenhouse environments and evaluated for plant pigments using HPLC methodology. Environmental and cultivar differences were observed for all of the pigments analyzed. `Sweet Thai' accumulated the highest concentrations of lutein, zeaxanthin, and β-carotene carotenoids in the field, while `Osmin Purple' accumulated the highest carotenoid concentrations in the greenhouse. Comparing the two environments, cultivar levels for carotenoid and chlorophyll pigments were higher in the field environment when expressed on both a fresh and dry weight basis. Exceptions were found only for the purple leaf basils (`Osmin Purple' and `Red Rubin'). Positive correlations existed between carotenoid and chlorophyll pigments in both environments. This study demonstrates sweet basil accumulates high levels of nutritionally important carotenoids in both field and greenhouse environments.

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The Caribbean region is one major source of most herbs and spices consumed in the U.S. Although the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) is part of the Caribbean, local production of herbs and spices does not contribute significantly to exports into the U.S. market. Nevertheless, culinary herbs area” important horticultural crop in the USVI and their sale provides income for many small-scale growers. Little research has been done to improve field production in the USVI. Inefficient cultural practices used by growers result in low yields. Lack of information on fertilizer rates, irrigation and pest control methods is a major constraint to high yields. In 1988, the Agricultural Experiment Station initiated a project to improve field production of herbs and spices in the USVI. Use of drip irrigation, mulching and fertilizers has improved yields of basil (Ocimum basilicum) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris). This paper will discuss crop management studies to improve culinary herb production in the USVI. Increasing production may help reduce U.S. imports of these specialty crops from other Caribbean island nations.

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Twenty herb species were exposed to root-knot nematode under greenhouse conditions. The root systems were examined for root gall development and nematode reproduction as an indication of host suitability. The herbs evaluated were balm (Melissa officinalis L.), basil (Ocimum basilicum L.), catnip (Nepeta cataria L.), chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.), coriander (Coriandrum sativium L.), dill (Anethum graveolens L.), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.), hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis L.), lavender (Lavandula augustifolia Mill.), oregano (Origanum vulgare L.), peppermint (Mentha ×piperita L.), rocket-salad (Erurca vesicaria L.), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.), rue (Ruta graveolens L.), sage (Salvia officinalis L.), savory (Satureja hortensis L.), sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana L.), tansy (Tanacetum vulgare L.), thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.), and wormwood (Artemisia absinthium L.). Peppermint, oregano, and marjoram consistently were free of root galls after exposure to initial nematode populations of two or 15 eggs/cm3 of soil medium and were considered resistant. All other herb species developed root galls with accompanying egg masses, classifying them as susceptible or hypersusceptible to root-knot nematode. The highest initial nematode egg density (15 eggs/cm3) significantly decreased dry weights of 14 species. The dry weights of other species were unaffected at these infestation densities after 32- to 42-day exposure.

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