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Abstract Detail

Economic Botany Section

Meyer, Rachel [1], Whitaker, Bruce [2], Kennelly, Edward [3], Nee, Michael [4], Litt, Amy [5].

The history of eggplant domestication: a phytochemical, molecular, and ethnobotanical approach.

Eggplants are native to Asia and come in hundreds of varieties with a range of medicinal and culinary uses. Selection by indigenous peoples has resulted in different gastronomic and medicinal attributes that may be correlated with phytochemical and gene expression profiles. Our goal is to integrate phylogeographic, phytochemical, molecular, and ethnobotanical data to understand the history of eggplant domestication as seen through its diverse ethnobotanical uses. To understand the phylogeographic history of eggplant, we are sampling indigenous Asian varieties as well as all proposed progenitors and edible related species from Asia. Because conflicting claims have been made about the progenitor of eggplant, we are including previously unsampled taxa from S.E. Asia, specifically the Philippines. To confirm distinct varieties, AFLP analysis was conducted. This was followed by analysis of 2kb of genomic sequence data, largely from introns, for 20 varietal samples. These data were then used to generate a preliminary phylogeographic tree. Using this as a framework, we analyzed phytochemicals in eggplant that contribute to flavor and/or bioactivity to look for patterns correlated with the history and geography. Of particular interest to us are the class of polyamine-hydroxycinnamic acid amides and other phenolic conjugates. These compounds were recently identified in eggplants and wild relatives, and some have been clinically shown to be antioxidant, antihypertensive, and antiparasitic. A DPPH assay was used to quantify the antioxidant activity of phenolic partitions versus crude extract, and to compare raw versus cooked eggplant. Last, the relationship among eggplants, their attributed uses, and their phenolic concentrations, were correlated with expression of genes within the phenolic pathway to understand how components of the pathway are regulated. Small-scale varieties show dramatically higher gene expression for key enzymes in the phenolic pathway than commercial cultivars, suggesting there are substantial amounts of beneficial compounds that can be associated with use.

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1 - City University of New York, Graduate Center / New York Botanical Gard, Biology, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, 10016, USA
2 - USDA Agricultural Research Service, Produce Quality and Safety, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Bldg 002 Barc-West, Beltsville, MD, 20705, USA
3 - Lehman College, CUNY, Department of Biological Sciences, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY, 10468, USA
4 - The New York Botanical Garden, Institute of Systematic Botany, 200th Street and Kazimiroff Blvd., Bronx, NY, 10458, USA
5 - The New York Botanical Garden, 200th St and Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY, 10458-5126, USA

phylogeographic tree
total phenolics

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 52
Location: 157/Law
Date: Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
Time: 9:00 AM
Number: 52005
Abstract ID:534

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