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Valtcho D. Zheljazkov, Andrew M. Jones, Bharathi Avula, Victor Maddox, and Dennis E. Rowe

Podophyllotoxin is an anticancer compound found in high concentrations in Indian mayapple [ Podophyllum emodii Wall. (syn. P. hexandrum Royle.)], American mayapple ( Podophyllum peltatum L.), Eastern red cedar ( Juniperus virginiana L.), and

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Kent E. Cushman, Muhammad Maqbool, and Patrick D. Gerard

American mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum L.) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial found in wooded areas of eastern North America and is a source of the pharmaceutical compound podophyllotoxin. To explore the possible domestication of this species, this research examined strategies for establishing mayapple in field plantings using organic mulches. Mayapple rhizome segments were harvested from the wild and transplanted to raised beds in northern Mississippi in Fall 2001. Two types of mulch (pine bark or wheat straw), two depths of mulch (7.5 or 15 cm), and two planting depths (0 or 5 cm) of rhizome segments were examined in a factorial arrangement and randomized complete block design. Data were recorded during spring of 2002 and 2003. Shoot number was not affected by mulch depth, but there was a significant interaction between mulch type and rhizome planting depth. Rhizome segments planted 0 cm deep and covered with straw mulch produced about 30% fewer shoots compared to any of the other treatment combinations. Number of emerging shoots was also affected by year, with a 33% increase in shoots from 2002 to 2003. Total leaf area and total leaf dry weight were not affected by mulch depth, but there was a significant three-way interaction between mulch type, rhizome planting depth, and year. During 2002, treatment combinations were not different, but during 2003 rhizome segments planted 0 cm deep and covered with straw mulch produced less leaf area and leaf dry weight than any of the other treatment combinations. The ratio of sexual shoots to total shoots was affected by year, with a higher ratio of sexual shoots occurring in 2002 than 2003. Grasses established in bark mulch to a greater extent than in straw mulch in 2002, but weed control was excellent for all treatments in 2003. These results indicate that rhizome segments planted 0 cm deep and covered with straw mulch consistently produced fewer shoots with less leaf area and dry mass compared to any other treatment combination. We preferred bark mulch, but we can recommend either bark or straw mulch for the purpose of establishing field plantings of american mayapple in full sun as long as rhizome planting depth is 5 cm. There was no difference between the two mulching depths used in this study; therefore, a mulch depth of 7.5 cm can be recommended because of its lower cost.

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Kent Cushman and Muhammad Maqbool

American mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is being investigated as a domestic, renewable, and alternative source of podophyllotoxin, a precursor compound used in the manufacture of several drugs. Indian mayapple (P. emodi) is the current source of the compound. The objective of this study was to examine growth of transplanted rhizome segments of American mayapple at four transplant times during the year. Two-node rhizome segments were carefully dug with roots intact from naturally occurring wild populations near Holly Springs, Miss. Segments were dug in Oct. 2002, Dec. 2002, Feb. 2003, or June 2003. Within 1 day of each harvest, segments were transplanted into 1-gal pots containing a mixture of sandy soil and a finely ground pine bark mulch. Pots were then set in a raised bed, such that the soil surface within the pots was even with that of the plant bed. Pots and plant bed then received a 3-inch layer of pine bark mulch. Rhizome segments were harvested from pots four times during the year following the date of transplant. Rhizome and roots were separated according to new or old growth and then dried. Rhizome segments transplanted during October and December increased about 36% in dry mass during the 1-year period after transplant. This was significantly greater than an increase of 12% for segments transplanted during June. Segments transplanted during February performed intermediately, increasing by 22%. Our results show that rhizome segments of American mayapple performed better when transplanted during fall and winter compared to those transplanted during summer. Segments transplanted during spring performed intermediately.

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Kent Cushman, Muhammad Maqbool, Ebru Bedir, Hemant Lata, Ikhlas Khan, and Rita Moraes

Podophyllotoxin is a pharmaceutical compound extracted from rhizomes of Indian mayapple (Podophyllumemodi). Leaves of American mayapple (P. peltatum) also contain podophyllotoxin, and the species is being investigated as a domestic, renewable, and alternative source of the compound. The objective of this study was to explore strategies of leaf removal that would not adversely affect regrowth of American mayapple shoots in subsequent years. Plots were established in two locations among naturally occurring populations in the wild, one in full sun and one in partial shade. Plots were 1.0 m2 and leaves were removed from plants every spring, every other spring, or every third spring. In addition, leaves were removed in early spring, soon after shoots emerged and leaves had fully expanded, or in late spring, when leaves first showed evidence of yellowing and beginning to senesce. Sexual and asexual leaves were harvested separately. Leaf number, leaf area, and dry weight were recorded. Subsamples of leaf material were extracted to determine podophyllotoxin, α-peltatin, and β-peltatin contents. Results clearly showed that leaf removal every year, in combination with early harvest, was too severe and plants lost vigor over the 4-year period of this study. Plants subjected to this treatment combination produced significantly less leaf area and dry weight than any of the other treatment combinations. Results were similar for both sun and shade locations. Lignan content was not affected by treatment. Our results indicate that leaves can be removed from mayapple plants as often as every year provided harvests are not scheduled too soon after shoot emergence.